Home > Sweet (Contours of the Heart #3)(11)

Sweet (Contours of the Heart #3)(11)
Author: Tammara Webber

“Oh. My. God. You’re seriously going to stay here instead of going to medical school and getting the hell out of this craphole of a town? Have you freaking lost it?” She sat forward and seized my wrist. “Wait. Is this about Mitchell?”

“No. This decision has nothing to do with him.” Not that he’d seen it that way—but I wasn’t getting into that. “Melody, I’m not you.” She jerked her hand away, inferring the thing I’d not meant. “I never wanted to move away,” I clarified. “I’ve spent the past four years missing the open water like I’d misplaced of piece of myself. I don’t want a big city life. I want a beach. I want the ocean. I want this. I’ve always loved it here.”

She shook her head. “I don’t get it.”

“I know.” I sighed, risking a glance across the bar where Boyce, done with his dart game, leaned back in his chair and laughed, engrossed in the animated conversation between Mateo and the guy who’d hit on Melody earlier.

Until he took a long pull from his bottle and shifted his attention to me down the length of it, like he’d been watching me all along, keeping me in his sights.

Chapter Four


Living with my father had been a nightmare I woke to daily. That’s why I never faulted my mother for getting the hell out when she had the chance. If there’d ever been a time he wasn’t an abusive fuck, it was before I came along. When cussing and screaming and throwing things didn’t make enough of an impact on her, he shoved and slapped and pulled hair. When he was stinking drunk, he landed punches.

Brent, nearly eight years older than me, started getting in the way of those punches when he was eleven or twelve. While I hid under my bed or in our closet—“Stay here,” he’d order, as if I needed convincing—he would try to talk Dad out of whatever fit he’d worked himself into. He usually ended up with a few bruises for his trouble.

Days before my eighth birthday, I heard a car pull up out front after one of my parents’ brawls. A minute later, the front door’s rusted hinges whined, and then there was a man’s voice, deep and unfamiliar. I scooted out from under the bed, thinking maybe the cops had come at last. Maybe they’d haul Dad off to jail and he’d have to stay there forever. I inched around the corner to watch. A stranger stood in the doorway, but he wasn’t wearing a uniform. Dad was sprawled in his chair, passed out, a half-empty bottle on the floor, just below his fingertips.

Mom shot out of their room then, dragging a big black trash bag full of stuff. Her favorite purse—the one with fringe on the bottom and a peace sign of purple rhinestones glued to the front—was slung over her shoulder. I knew the red mark on her cheek would be dark by morning, and she’d tap makeup from a bottle and smooth it over and over until it looked like a harmless shadow.

The man took the trash bag from her hands.

“Mom,” Brent said, his voice a harsh whisper, his hands balled at his sides. “Mom, take Boyce with you.”

She glanced at the man in the doorway.

“Ain’t takin’ no kid,” he said, turning his head and spitting a wad of chew into the yard.

She turned back to my brother. “Boyce has you,” she said. “Y’all’ll be fine. Your daddy only hates me.” Her voice quaked as she stared across the room. “You know how to make him calm. I just get him more riled.”

“Mom, please. He’s just a little kid—”

The man hefted the bag and strode out the door. “Ruthanne,” he said. A command.

Mom started after him before swinging back and lifting a hand to Brent’s face. At fifteen, he was a head taller than her. “Y’all’ll be fine, baby.” Her voice was so low I could barely hear her. The rhinestones caught the beam of the floodlight outside and glinted like broken bits of purple glass. “Carl will probably change his mind, okay? Just give me some time to soften him up. I’ll let you know where I am.”

We never heard from her again.

• • • • • • • • • •

Pearl’s parents’ house was on the bay side of town—a neighborhood of houses that looked more like a row of resorts than homes containing only one family apiece. There were docks out back of each one where yachts and fishing boats and Jet Skis were conveniently moored. The more monstrous ones with corner lots and backyards—like the Frank place—had swimming pools, each one just feet from the bay. There was an airstrip nearby too, for the rich fucks who wanted personal access to the ocean and the sky.

Until high school, though, Pearl and her mom lived in my part of town, just on the other side of the long block where all three schools huddled together—elementary, middle, and high school. Her mom worked for a doctor’s office, scraping by like most working class folks did. I’d see them sometimes at the IGA, leafing through coupons in the cereal aisle while Brent just bought the cheap store brand, or on the public beach, splashing through the surf.

Once, Brent and I were fishing off the main pier when I caught sight of them. Ms. Torres was propped in a folding chair, reading, while her daughter constructed the world’s most pitiful lump of a sand castle. A humid breeze carried the sound of their laughter when Pearl stood up and stomped it flat like she was Godzilla putting a butt-ugly building out of its misery. She collapsed on a beach towel covered in Disney princesses and spread her arms and legs like a starfish, and her mom handed her a wet wipe and a baggie of orange slices. Watching them made me ache with happiness and jealousy until I couldn’t look anymore.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)