Home > Breakable (Contours of the Heart #2)(2)

Breakable (Contours of the Heart #2)(2)
Author: Tammara Webber

In class, she sat next to him, wearing a loose smile, sometimes quietly conversing with him or others nearby. She didn’t look unhappy, but her eyes were almost vacant at times, like her mind was elsewhere. During those moments, though, her hands – her fingers – were performing.

At first I thought she had a nervous habit, like Heller’s daughter, Carlie, who’d never stopped moving since the day she was born. Carlie was forever tapping a fingernail or a foot, jiggling a knee, talking. The only thing I’ve seen calm her was petting Francis, my cat.

This girl wasn’t tapping her fingers restlessly, though. Her movements were methodical. Synchronized. Sitting far enough to the left of her to study her profile, I watched her chin bob, so subtly it was almost undetectable – and at some point, I realized that when her expression was remote and her fingers were moving, she was hearing music. She was playing music.

It was the most magical thing I’d ever seen anyone do.

According to Heller’s seating chart – received with the rest of my tutoring-support materials for the semester – the douche’s name was Kennedy, assuming I was reading the scrawl of his print correctly. Sitting on the sofa in my apartment, scanning the chart, I murmured, ‘No f**king way,’ when I read her name, neatly printed in the square next to his: Jackie.

Jackie and Kennedy?

He couldn’t be going out with her because of her name. No one could be that shallow.

I thought back to this morning at the end of class. He’d handed her his homework and said, ‘Hey, babe – take this up to the front with yours? Thanks.’ Flashing an entitled grin, he’d turned to continue some debate about what should and shouldn’t be considered hazing while she placed his paper on top of her own, rolling her eyes as she spun to walk down the steps to the front of the classroom.

Yeah. He could absolutely be that shallow.

I touched a finger to her name. Every letter she’d printed was rounded, feminine. Even the ‘i’ had a slight bend and a right-swerving tail. The dot over the ‘i’ was a dot, though. No open circle. No little heart. And there was the eye roll after his Hey, babe. Maybe she wasn’t hopelessly caught in his web.

What the hell was I even thinking? This girl was a student in the class I tutored. She was off-limits, at least for the remainder of the semester. Which was a long goddamned time, considering we’d just entered the second week of class.

And aside from the fact that I couldn’t touch her if she was available … she wasn’t available.

I wondered how long they’d been going out. They were both sophomores, according to the roll sheet. Worst-case scenario, then: they’d been a thing for a year.

So I did what any normal stalker would do. I looked her up online and found a locked-down profile. Damn.

But his was wide open.

Kennedy Moore. In a relationship with Jackie Wallace. No anniversary listed, but there were photos tagged of her – not just over the past year, but before that. I worked backwards, growing progressively pissed off for no good reason.

The summer before college. High school graduation. Prom. Skiing over spring break. A surprise party on her eighteenth birthday. A distance shot of an orchestra with more performers than the population of my entire high school. A close-up of her wearing that orchestral attire plus a Santa hat – but no instrument in her hands, so I wasn’t sure what she played.

Thanksgiving with his family. The two of them horsing around with friends on a football field just outside a high school that reeked of moneyed suburb. Previous summer break. Junior prom. Yet another Christmas.

The earliest photo of her with him was taken at a fall carnival nearly three years ago.

They’d been together three years. Three years. I couldn’t even wrap my mind around it.

A yowl at my door signalled Francis’s return from whatever trouble he got into between dinner and sleep. Like any good domesticated companion, I put my laptop aside and went to let him in. When I opened the door, he sat on the mat, licking a paw.

‘C’mon, then,’ I said. ‘I’m not gonna refrigerate the whole neighbourhood.’

He shrugged into a standing position, stretched indolently and darted into the apartment as I made to shut the door in his face. Just before it snapped closed, I heard, ‘Lucas!’ and pulled it open.

Carlie was halfway up the wooden staircase that led to my apartment over the Hellers’ garage. It was late. She’d developed an uncomfortable crush on me last spring, which I’d thought was over months ago, after I pretended not to notice her prolonged stares and excessive giggles. I’d known her since she was born, so she and her brothers were like cousins or siblings to me, especially considering I didn’t have either. She was also five years my junior – a kid, really. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt her.

I moved fully into the doorway. ‘Hey, Carlie. Shouldn’t you be in bed?’

She wrinkled her nose and scowled, insulted. ‘I’m sixteen, not six. Sheesh.’ When she got to the top step and moved into the semicircle of light over the small landing, I noticed she had a plate in her hand. ‘I made cookies. Thought you might want some.’

‘Cool. Thanks.’ I took the plate but didn’t move into the apartment.

She shuffled one foot and stuck her hands in the back pockets of her shorts. ‘Lucas?’

‘Yeah?’ I said, thinking, Oh, shit.

‘Are you ever gonna … have a girlfriend? Or do you have one, but you just don’t bring her around here? Or is there, you know, something else you haven’t revealed yet …’

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