Home > A Place Without You(12)

A Place Without You(12)
Author: Jewel E. Ann

“I miss us. I know it’s stupid because it was two days.” I lower my voice, staring at his chest over my sketch pad because I don’t want to see pity in his eyes. “It was just…” I try to focus on my thoughts that want to fade into other random thoughts “…something really powerful I felt. You probably think I’m young and impulsive. You probably think it was a crush. I’m sure you have a million girls with crushes on you, but it didn’t feel like a crush. It felt …”

“It felt what?” he whispers with the vulnerability of the Bodhi that held me in his arms on the sofa at Lauren’s house.

I let my gaze inch up to his. “Vital. Like that feeling would own a piece of me forever. Like that feeling would never go away. Never fade. Like my existence suddenly depended on having that feeling, like a pulse—a breath.”

He nods slowly for several long moments. “I need this job,” he says like the most heartbreaking confession.

I think I just fell in love with Bodhi Malone. “I need this job” is his painful reality as to why we can’t be together. “I need this job” says he wants to be with me, but he needs to be employed. “I need this job” says it all, and it hurts so badly because I selfishly want our needs to only be each other.

“I have class. Thank you, Mr. Malone.” Standing, I grab my bag, wait until my balance gives me solid footing, and leave his office.


For weeks, I work on weaning myself off the weed, but it’s not so easy. I’ve tried it a million times before, but the pain is real. My injury is real. The budding grownup inside of me wants to impress Bodhi with my ability to stay in school and not be high all the time. I manage to hold off until after lunch, making it through my hardest classes and my first study hall, in which I spend most of it in Mr. Malone’s office. We don’t say anything. I do homework or sketch something while he works on his computer, usually with earbuds in his ears.

“Warren asked me to homecoming.”

Bodhi glances up, removing his ear buds. “What?”

“Homecoming. Warren Adams asked me to be his date.”


“Okay.” I scrape my teeth along my bottom lip.

“You said yes?”

I nod.

“Warren is a nice guy. Good call.”

“You’ve known him for like three or four weeks. How can you say he’s a nice guy?”

Bodhi shrugs, returning his attention to the computer screen. “Good grades. Nice parents. Nothing on his record shows that he’s had issues in school. And he’s your school’s best running back. I’ve heard rumors that he could get a full-ride scholarship to play for UCLA.”

“Yay, Warren.” I give Bodhi a toothy grin when he makes a quick glance up at me. “Let’s back up. What does my record say? Would you tell Warren I’m a good call?”

“No way. I’d tell the poor guy to use his running skills and never look back.”

“You’re an ass, Mr. Malone.”

“You should show me more respect, Miss Lane.”

I open a can of ginger ale and gulp half of it down. “Yeah, well, you should work a little harder to earn my respect.” I burp the most unladylike burp.


“You seeing anyone? I heard the volleyball coach has been eyeing you. She’s nice enough, but I also heard she’s been engaged twice but never married. Clearly there’s an issue.”

He meets my gaze. “I heard you took an actual typewriter to your history class last year to take notes, causing all sorts of distraction with its noise.”

“My laptop’s battery was dead.”

“Take notes on your cell phone.”

“I didn’t have one. I just got my first cell phone this past Christmas.”

Bodhi squints at me.

“True story. I rejected technology for a while.” Okay, I had it withheld from me, but I like to make it seem like it was my choice.

“I heard you took an abacus to trigonometry last year for your semester test.”

I smirk. “You sure have heard a lot of things about me. How thick is my file?”

“I have four filing cabinets for the senior class. One is just yours. If you get held back another year, the school will have to build an addition—the Hell wing.”

Laughter from both of us fills the room. Neither one of us says it, and maybe it will never be anything more, but in this moment we are Henna and Bodhi. What we share is so natural and easy, the only part that feels wrong is our thinking that it’s wrong.

I glance at my watch. “I have to get to class.”

Bodhi’s smile remains firmly attached to his face. He doesn’t ruin the moment by jumping back into Mr. Malone mode. I wonder if third period is his favorite part of the day too.

“Have a nice weekend.”

“You too, Mr. Malone.”

His eyes widen a bit. “I earned your respect today?”

He’s earned my love, my affection, my desire, my every thought. How can he not know that? “You did.”

After school I wait for Warren by his car. He has forty-five minutes for a break before he needs to be back for the game.

“Hell, I figured you’d be out shopping for a dress. Surely your mom knows a gazillion fancy designers.”

I roll my eyes. “I’m wearing two floral pillow cases sewn together. You good with that?”

He leans down and kisses me on the cheek. “I asked you to homecoming, not your dress. Clothing is optional.” Tossing his bag into the backseat of his Subaru Outback, he flashes me a cocky smile. Warren is going to have any girl he wants for the rest of his life. If his outgoing personality doesn’t cinch the deal, his athletic build, hazel eyes, and thick dark hair will guarantee it.

“I need a ride. Pretty please.”

“I don’t have much time. Where to?”

I look across the parking lot to the area where the teachers park. “I’m not sure. I need to know where Mr. Malone lives. He should be coming out of the building soon. We need to follow him.”

“You’re going to slash his tires? I heard he put you in automotive class.”

“No tire slashing.” I keep my gaze on Alice.

“Tee Pee his house?”


“Make a peace sign in his lawn with grass killer?”

Giving Warren a quick sideways glance, I grin. “That only happened once.”

“He’s pretty cool. What’s your problem with him?”

“Who said I have a problem with him?”

Bodhi and his faded gray messenger bag head toward Alice.

“Sometimes it’s a good idea to keep tabs on people who can make or break my senior year. He’s getting in his van. Let’s go.”

Warren opens my door. I smile. He’s a nice guy. If I have to find makeshift dates for my senior year, Warren is a solid choice.

“His dad’s in a wheelchair.”

I nod, keeping a close eye on Alice as Bodhi heads down the road. “Yeah, I heard that.”

Warren turns down the radio. “My mom knew his mom. I guess after his dad had his accident, he went through some bad times and their marriage started to fall apart. She stayed to take care of him, but a year later, she died of a heart attack. She had a heart condition.”

“Seriously?” My stomach falls, thinking about Bodhi’s life.

“Yeah, so keep your revenge to a minimum. I think Mr. Malone has been through a lot.”

I nod slowly as Bodhi turns into a long gravel drive. “Bella’s Stables? What’s he doing here?”

Warren chuckles. “Maybe he likes to ride horses.”

Yes. That makes perfect sense for my sexy cowboy. “Stop. Let me out here.”

“Do you want me to wait?”

I open the door. “Nah. My house is literally a mile up the hill.”


“Thanks, Warren. I really appreciate it.”

“You coming to the game tonight? Wanna hang out afterwards?”

“Maybe and maybe.”

He chuckles. “Okay, then maybe I’ll call you after I’m out of the locker room.”

I hold up my hand in a friendly goodbye as I shut the door.

I don’t know a lot about Bella’s Stables. We’re not equestrian people at my house. I’m fairly certain this place is more for tourists who want to horseback ride the trails in the mountains.

Walking the gravel lane, I pass stables on my right with a field of grazing horses behind it. Farther down the way, there is an old house I assume is abandoned. Stopping just round the bend, I spy Bodhi, parked next to an old silver minivan. He gets out of Alice, slings his bag over his shoulder, and walks up the wheelchair ramp.

Bodhi lives in that old house with his wheelchair-bound father. I press my hand to my chest, feeling an aching pain in my heart.

“Can I help you?”

I jump, keeping my hand to my chest. “Oh, um …”

The middle-aged man with messy brown-gray hair peeking out from his black cowboy hat wipes his hands on a rag and shoves the rag into his back pocket.

“You wanna ride?”

“No, thank you. I just live up the way. I can walk.”

He nods toward the stables. “I meant a horse. Did you come here for one of the trail rides? It’s been a slow day. I’ll knock thirty dollars off if you’re interested.”

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