As the evening draws in, I pour another cup of tea and fold my legs underneath myself. Steam winds its way around my fingertips. Drumming my fingernails on the countertop, I watch the setting sun blurring a haze of burnt orange across the still grey water of the lake. Its waning light steals my final reserves of strength with it. I bite my lip and type out the next in a long list of draft texts to Finch. With a sigh, I delete it.
We've not spoken all day. Finch was quiet at breakfast, sitting opposite me but barely speaking two words. I'd put it down to his lack of sleep -like James he's not a morning person. After searching the summerhouse and the garden, and coming up short, I'd pulled him aside to admit the loss of the pin.
'I have it. I found it this morning,' he said bluntly, turning to climb the stairs to his room.
I read his coolness for annoyance - after all, I was the one who had been careless. Naively, I had thought he was running to get it for me. I hoped that handing over that little piece of metal, with all its promises, would soften this hard, indifferent version of Finch that I didn't recognise. That had changed when he'd left for the lake. He hadn't even said goodbye.
That coldness has left me reeling all day. Somehow last night, as I fell harder, Finch stepped back. For hours I'd racked my brains, trying to work out where I'd gone wrong, obsessing over every move, every word spoken. After all, it couldn't have been his performance - god only knows that he'd had practice to spare. Somehow, in my lack of experience, I've done something to repel him. The indifference to me, despite what we did last night, makes me sick to the stomach and puts my back up.
A high-pitched giggle breaks my gaze from the bleeding horizon. Lissie and James appear from the den, wound tight around each other and clearly oblivious to my presence. As his hands slip to a place that should be private, I clear my throat. Only James has the decency to look embarrassed.
Ever since I'd returned to find Lissie's bed empty, I've been waiting for a chance to get her alone. I need to tell her what happened before I burst, and to ask her where she'd been - not that it takes a genius to work that out. When they appeared at our bedroom door, James had been all puppy-dog eyes and goofy smiles.
Whatever she did to him last night, she's caught him hook, line and sinker. It's as if he's forgotten that he's one name on a long list of conquests Lissie plans to make. I want to shake him. To warn him that he's making a mistake and that she won't want him now that she's had him.
'Lissie and I are gonna drive down to the marina for food before Brody's party. Just for dinner.'
'You can tag along if, you know, you don't have anything else,' Lissie says. I'm not sure if it's the insincerity in her tone or the smileless stare that irks me more.
'Obviously, you can,' James says, nudging Lissie and raising an eyebrow. 'We'd love you to.'
We'd? When have they become a we? Strange how one night seems to have cemented their relationship and broken mine.
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Under Tennessee SkiesTeen Fiction
When she moves from England to the small town of Hopton Hills, Tennessee, Martha Heysham finds both her dream of Oxford University and her heart at risk from her new neighbours, the Whittingham boys. **** Martha Heysham hates Tennessee. The sticky h...