Tied (All Torn Up #2) - Page 43
I go over the file more times than necessary, and by the time I’m ready to close it and burn it, I’m in a sick rage and all I want to do is dig that motherfucker up, take an axe to his rotting remains, piss on him, and set him on fire.
I’m giddy as I pull into my parents’ driveway. I have a driver’s license. And a car. I feel a strange sense of freedom and maturity.
I wonder if this is what my parents didn’t want me to feel.
I wouldn’t have any of it without Tyler’s help. He taught me to drive, set me up with a driver’s education instructor, and helped me get the paperwork I needed. Then he surprised me with an actual car. I couldn’t believe my eyes when he drove me to it and handed me the keys with that adorable grin on his face. Without even thinking, I threw my arms around his neck, and he spun me around in a circle and kissed me right there in the dark parking lot. Everything felt right and so very normal.
Zac’s car is also in the driveway. I haven’t seen him since the night we went to dinner, although we talk on the phone and text several times per week. I haven’t seen my parents in over a month, and when I call, they are hardly ever home. Today is Saturday and, as I recall from our talks, Zac stops by for breakfast on Saturdays occasionally.
My brother stands to give me a hug as I enter the kitchen. “You look great,” he says with a smile. “You want a bagel?”
I decline, too nervous to eat. My mother, who is sitting at the kitchen table with an elaborate spread of bagels, cream cheese, and butter, zeroes in on me and, without so much as a hello, she questions me. “Holly, how on earth did you get here? Please tell me those are not car keys in your hand?” It figures she would notice them before I have a chance to bring up this conversation on my own.
“Yes. I got my driver’s license and a car,” I answer excitedly. “It’s in the driveway.
My mother practically slams her coffee cup down on the table, making Zac and me jump. “How many times have we talked about this and decided it was best for you to wait. How did you even manage to do all that without help? And how were you able to afford a car?”
“I…” I search for the right words that won’t exacerbate my mother’s annoyance.
“I helped her,” Zac pipes up, his eyes meeting mine across the room, and I silently thank him for coming to my rescue.
My mom looks at him in disbelief. “You? Why would you do that? You know we wanted her to wait. She’s not ready to be driving around. She could get lost—”
“She’s old enough to drive, Mom. She’s not a baby.”
“She’s not like other girls her age,” she says, as if I’m not right there in the room. “She has to be more careful.”
My brother glances at me, probably to make sure I’m okay, and then he confronts our mother. “She’s fine, Mom. She should be able to drive herself around. Stop treating her like a prisoner and a leper.”
I love my brother.
“Mom, I’ll be fine driving. It was costing a lot of money for me to use a taxi anytime I wanted to go somewhere, and I can’t expect Feather to drive me around. I’m sorry for not going along with what you and Dad wanted, but this is what I wanted to do.” I hold my own against her angry gaze, refusing to look away from her. “And the therapist thinks it’s a good idea for me to have some independence and start making my own decisions. She saw nothing wrong with me having a car and going for short drives.”
“I guess what’s done is done, then.” Her voice is flippant.
“I was hoping you’d be happy for me, maybe proud of me,” I say, not hiding the disappointment in my voice. “I’m just trying to live a normal life. I can visit you guys now, and go see Grandma, maybe even look for another part-time job.”
She smiles weakly. “Of course I’m proud of you. I just think you should have waited. And your father would have bought you a nice, safe car.”
“The car she has is fine, Mom,” Zac says, even though he hasn’t even seen it.
My initial excitement, which filled me during the drive here, has deflated. I had hoped my mother would be happy for me and see how much I’ve grown over the past few months. And I had stupidly hoped I could tell her how I felt about Tyler and have a real mom-and-daughter talk like I’d seen on Gilmore Girls, but that just isn’t going to happen. I don’t have a best friend relationship with my mother. I don’t even have a mother-daughter relationship with her.
“Well, I just wanted to stop by and say hello. I was on my way to the bookstore,” I lie.
“I’ll call you during the week. I have to get ready to go to the salon.” My mother stands and hugs me, still holding her coffee, and I’m afraid she’s going to spill it all over me. “Maybe you can come for dinner one night.”
I won’t hold my breath for that. “Okay.”
“Keep your car doors locked, even when you’re driving. Someone could grab you at a red light. And stay off the highway, it’s way too dangerous.” I nod at her, making a mental list of everything she’s saying. “And wear your seatbelt.”
“Jesus, Mom, she’s not a fucking accident magnet,” Zac says. He moves toward me. “I’ll walk you out.” He touches my elbow and steers me out of the house and right to the front of my car.
“Okay, she can’t hear us. Where did you really get the car from?”
I look down uneasily, unable to lie to my brother. “Thanks for covering for me. I really appreciate that.”
“You’re welcome,” he says. “Mom doesn’t need to know where it came from, but I do.”
“I’m on your side, Holly. I love you. But don’t start shutting me out.”
I straighten my shoulders and look my brother in the eye. “I got the car from Tyler.”
He looks at me quizzically, then a flash of recognition lights up his face.
“Tyler Grace?” he asks.
I nod. “Yes.”
“Is that where you’ve been spending your time?”
I nod again. “Yes. I help him in his workshop. And I told you Poppy lives there, so I get to see him.”
He lets out a low whistle. “Holly…”
“He’s my friend, Zac. He’s good to me. He understands me.”
“He’s not right in the head, Hols. I know he saved you but—”
I refuse to listen to the “buts.” “You’re wrong. Those are just horrible rumors. He’s smart, and sweet, and caring. He saves animals, and he bought me blankets. He taught me to drive and got me this car. We talk and text for hours—”
“Oh shit, Holly. You sound like you’re in love with him…are you?”
His question rocks me. Am I? I know I can’t wait to see him every day, and he makes me happier than I’ve ever felt, and I want to make him just as happy, if not more. I love it when he holds me and kisses me, and I’m seriously worried about possibly moving to New York and wondering how I’m going to cope with missing him so much.
“I don’t know, Zac. I’m just trying to figure out who I am, and where I belong, and what I want. But I do know that, no matter what, I want him to be a part of it. I don’t know how to label how I feel.”
“I understand all that, but wouldn’t it be better for you to be with someone who doesn’t remind you of your past?”
“Tyler doesn’t remind me of my past. He’s helping me learn to deal with it. He makes me feel better.”
“And how can he do that when he’s not dealing with his own past? He won’t even go out in public.”
“I know that…but I think that will change in time. He’s getting better, just like I am. We’re helping each other.”
Zac leans against the car. “I was hoping you’d have a fresh start in New York. What are you going to do about him?”
“I’m not sure yet. We can visit each other, right? He could come see me?”
“Well, yeah, but is he going to do that? I don’t want to sound like Mom…but I really don’t like the idea of you driving all the way here from New York to see him.”
“I have no idea. We haven’t really talked about it. I don’t know how to think that far ahead.”
His head hangs down as he absorbs all this; then he slowly looks up. “Okay. It’s your life,” he finally says. “No matter what, I’m here for you. And so is Anna. Just be careful. I think you’re too young and fragile to get into any kind of commitment right now, especially with him. He’s older; he’s got a lot of issues… I don’t want you to end up with a broken heart.”
I text Tyler from the end of my street after I leave my parents’ house.
Holly: Can I come over to see Poppy?
Tyler: Of course. He was just telling me he misses you
Holly: Tell him I miss him too
Tyler and the fuzzy duo are all sitting on the front steps when I pull into the dirt driveway, and it makes my heart clench. This feels like home. This is where I want home to be.
He approaches the car as I’m getting out, and my heart jumps. I can’t tell him, but he looks incredibly cute today. He’s wearing a black baseball cap backwards and a black T-shirt over a white thermal shirt with the sleeves pushed up, and I can’t help but notice the taut muscles of his arms. His usual faded jeans hug his body perfectly and today, instead of black motorcycle boots, he’s wearing white sneakers. Ever since we’ve started kissing, my body has reacted differently to his, getting warm and tingly when he’s near, my heart racing every time I think about him.