16: Tyler

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16. Tyler

We eventually end up in a coffee shop. It isn't the best of places but it's quiet and mostly empty. It's somewhere. And somewhere is all we need. I pull the truck up and we pile out. Ethan hops out of the open cargo bed.

I take my phone out and groan inwardly when I see that it's ten o'clock. I probably won't get back to my house until closer to eleven now and my parents will be seconds away from killing me by then.

I watch Franny and Tally as they walk into the coffee shop, and I frown. How come neither of them seems to have any qualms about staying out so late on a school night? I didn't see any of them take a phone out to tell a parent. I guess I understand why Franny wouldn't, but Tally . . .

I begin to walk in after them when a hand on my arm pulls me back. I turn to see Ethan leaning against my truck. "What?" I ask.

He lets out a long sigh. "Tyler, you heard what those guys said."

I rub the back of my neck. "We'll talk about it later. I just need to get this over with first."

"Someone could be setting you up," Ethan says urgently. "Someone could be using you."

"I know," I say quietly. "But we'll sort it out later. Not now. Not at ten at night when I've already had a shit enough day."

I walk away without another word and enter the coffee shop. I head towards the table that the girls have chosen in the back, hidden away. I sit down on the other side of the table from them and Ethan comes in a few minutes later, sitting beside me.

We're all silent for a moment, not knowing what to say.

None of us knows where to start.

"Jesus, I can't do this," I mutter and drop my head into my hands.

"Stop being so melodramatic," Tally says. "Just start from the beginning."

Where is the beginning? By now everything has jumbled together and become one useless, fucked-up mess.

"Fine. If you don't want to tell us everything, then just tell us why those guys were there and why you were beat up the other night," Franny says.

I nod slowly and glance at Ethan, who just gestures for me to speak. "Okay well—"

"You need to buy something to stay here," says the waitress, appearing out of nowhere.

She glares down at us, arms crossed over her chest lazily. She raises an eyebrow and I suddenly feel like every force in the world is trying to stop me from speaking.

"Just get us a coffee then," Tally speaks up.

The woman writes it down on a piece of paper and I look at it incredulously. Is she going to forget the word coffee from our table to the damn machine?

"Room for milk?" she asks, smacking her lips at the end.

"No," Tally says, aggravated. "Just black coffee."

"What size?"


"To stay or to go?"

"Just get me a fucking coffee!" Tally blurts out.

The woman's eyes widen but not very much, as she seems to be the most bored person on the planet right now. "No need to be rude."

Tally sighs when the waitress finally walks away, and brushes her hair out of her face with her hand. The air around us all is tense and I take a deep breath before folding my hands together on the wooden table in front of me.

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