Chapter 2 - A Love Song For Liars (Triology)

"This is sick, Emily." Jessy looks around the patio on Saturday night. "Don't you think, Carla?"

Carla lifts a bare shoulder under her perfectly waved blond hair. "It's better than nothing."

"Better than nothing." is an expanses of natural rock with a waterfall wrapping around the end of a pool that takes me twenty strokes to span. The stone surrounding it stretches for ages, with enough space to host a hundred people standing.

This patio is my sanctuary. There's no pressure here, no haters, no self-doubt.

Unless all of those things are lounging in chaises drinking vodka-laced punch.

"You should've invited your friend." Chris, whose low-slung black swim trunks show off an impressively sculpted torso, says to me. "Ava?"

"Avery. She left for Italy yesterday."

He nods. "My Uncle has a place in Florence."

When you attend private school, stripping out of uniforms is an occasion we take seriously. The girls are wearing bikinis, the guys in swim trunks hanging low on toned abs the dress shirts only hint at during the week.

I'm in a cherry red one piece bathing suit, and I pulled on jean shorts too. I could probably use the padding from a bikini top. I'm still hoping my boobs make a late surge senior year, but my goal for tonight isn't attracting attention. It's making peace.

"How's your car, Emily?" Carla asks sweetly. "I saw you still in the parking lot , Thursday when I left."

"Good as new." I won't give her the satisfaction of getting to me, especially since I'm trying to smooth things over.

I glance around the patio. During the daytime, I love swimming laps in the pool. Now, the lights turn it electric blue. Sleek chaise loungers with side tables are arranged around the perimeter. A table with a bar and snacks sits discreetly off to one side. Built-in speakers at thirty different points in the patio including some of the chairs, umbrellas, and the gardens make it feel like the music's inside us.

My gaze lands on the house. Uncle Rudy's rules for tonight were no drinking and no coming inside except for Miss Norma, whom he greeted at the door. Now they're in the living room, staring at each other on the couch.

The form I spot through the sliding glass doors isn't Uncle Rudy.

I hold up my cup in a toast, the minions had the carafe spike with Grey Goose before the caterer left, and Timothy shakes his head.

The slider opens, an Carla shrieks. "Timothy, let me get you a drink!"

She dashes to the bar and fills him a solo cup, her curves bouncing under her tiny bathing suits.

"Come play 'I've never' with us." she insists as he crosses to where we're standing along with Laura, Jessy and Thalia.

Of course Timothy's jeans and tshirts come off more compelling than the half-naked guys outside. I see him in school clothes as often as not, and I try not to stare at the way his black tshirts hugs his chest and reveals strong arms, beautiful hands.

But when my gaze locks on his, something says he caught me looking.

Chris starts the game, and I force my attention to him.

"I've never been fucked up the ass."

Carla shoves Chris but drinks.

"Only me? Fine. I've never had a thousand people screaming my name." She steps close enough to brush her boobs against Timothy's arm as if she has fleas and he's a scratching post. "That's you, baby. That show you did in Miami last month."

He cocks his head. When he speaks, his voice is amused, with an edge of something I can't make out above the music. "I filled in as a favor to Eddie when their guitarist had a car accident. The crowd didn't know my name."

"They were undressing you with their eyes. Same damn thing."

Timothy looks as if he's about to argue but takes a drink. "I'd rather be good than famous." he says after, staring into his cup. "The best guitarists aren't guys like Eddie. They're session musicians. They've played on every radio edit you've ever heard for the last seventy years, and you couldn't name one of them. Not everyone needs thousands of screaming fans to be worthwhile."

"Spoken like someone who's afraid." I'm supposed to be making friends, but I can't resist stating the obvious. Timothy looks up. "Fame is only as dangerous as the person who commands it. If you're talented enough to get the world's attention for more than a few minutes, you have a responsibility to use it. It's not something you can toss aside."

Timothy's nostrils flare, a muscle in his jaw working.

I've hit a sore spot in this boy they love to worship.

"It's your turn." Carla reminds Timothy.

Chris drapes an arm around my neck, and I'm surprised because I almost forgot he was here, but Timothy's attention locks on the arm around my neck as if he wants to melt it away with sheer disdain.

"I've never worn a garbage bag as a fashion statement."

The comment works under my skin like a dull blade even before Carla screeches with laughter. "Drink, Emily. A lot. Jessy? You too."

"But damn, girl, you make it look good." Chris murmurs, running a finger absently along my collarbone. It tickles like an insect, and I want to brush it away, but my attention's on Timothy.

He looks pissed, or his self-contained version of it. I've never seen him lose his temper. He's easygoing except when he broods, when whatever's below the surface is carefully leashed and dealt with deep down, where he'd never let me. Where he'd never let anyone at this party, I'm willing to guess.

I'm genuinely at a loss for why he's still standing here when he looks as though the last place he wants to be is poolside.

My throat is already burning, but I tip the cup back, swallowing gulp after gulp, and by the time I straighten, it's empty and all I can taste is cherries and vodka.

"Your turn, Emily." Chris nudges.

I square my shoulders and deliver my challenge at the boy in front of me. "I've never lived in a pool house."

I regret the words before I finish them.

They're mean because they're insensitive but also because they're true.

Timothy reaches for his cup and lifts it in a silent, mocking toast.

"You win."

tarts back acr

u w

oesn't fee

pt I felt cornered and attacked,

deal?" Chri

very girl who'd give her allowance to lick your abs, the

the pool house. I can't hear what she says when she catches up to

ze lingers on Carla and Ti

o reject her

on my

imothy. Shu

e as if he can hear my wo

lets her


ught that maybe he was over being this peopl

s wr

n Jessy and the minions go to get more

est smile. "It is.

de door of the house to avoi

stage tour." I sa

st to avoid being seen. My heart's hammering in my ears

" Chri

"Take your pick. The Grammys live inside because my step

keep them in

spect for rewards and formality.


ks drunk on the surroundings. I know what that's like. People get a hit

earse." Chris shoots me a loaded sm

ave a raging hate-on for me. I'm not holding my breath for poetry and professed love, but I'm also n

nd, and we trip toward the other side

, but its blurring together. Its a grid of


house, but my Dad planted more. He likes

e bush and snaps off one of the blooms. My heart kicks as he tosses it into

I inhale, startled, and catch a hit of bo

get a few inches between u

en flirting with me

the one who flirting with me." Desperation edges i

bviously. But you're the only person who do

ys for you to use that pretty mouth." Chris' gaze flicks delibera

ning, my body stiffening.

arm but catch my toe on the ro

the rose bushes, their thorns scratching at my skin, but I

what the

toward me. A muttered curse says o

aughter floods in my ears. Cans litter the patio. I watch in

I can do to change that. My stomach plummets, the

and hit the code for the keypad. After

ow, rough voice splits the darknes

, I'm shoved up against the wa


ale hips dig into my stomach. I'm so t

shine, that keeps me from freaki

anger in his voice, his lips

ou didn't recognize me w

eps back,

e him, I'd fall in a heap without his support. So, my fingers close over his h

later, I'm deposite

s b

stand lamp, switched on has me

hirtless, scowling god. His toned

s of his stomach, lingering on the indentations left by the shadows, the

" His voice is commanding,

othy lifts a dark brow under the thick fall of hair. "Two

ne and liquor. Timothy smells

here because o

refer my tr

king into relief the new position brings. "Ch

through my head, almost as if I'd ut

ish from the side of the bed o

y?" Timothy's voice is so

y eyes open to see him braced over me, close e

says flatly. "Yo

ve to sound l

ot trying to be a brat. He doesn't need to pretend when we're a

testing Chris, the fuzziness in my head, my own st

e one who sinks onto the bed next to my head, making the

re's a note of worry in his impatie

e studies me. We're closer than we've been in months, except

emotions but for marks, for trauma, for s

sh drinking my water. His dark gaze comes back

ing my head and brushing back my hair. His fin

y utters the words as if they're

se bush. It bit h

up on the nightstand, but he

good as I thought it

n't? Tell

bed, my eyes closing b

you, T