27 Lies(7)

By: MJ Fields



I nod.

“He’s on medical leave; don’t make him work, Dad,” Lauren scolds him.

“What happened?” Mom asks.

“Training. No big deal; I’m fine. Going back soon,” I assure her.

“Going where?” she asks, scowling, which is unlike her.

“Middle East,” I answer then turn and look at Ryan. “What do you need help with?”

Ryan nods toward the door and begins to walk. I follow him into the garage.

As soon as I shut the door, he turns and crosses his arms. “You okay?”

“I’m fine. What’s going on?”

He rolls his eyes and runs his hand over his head. “No need to worry. And we don’t want the others to know. I had a physical a week ago. My PSI levels are a little high. To rule out cancer, I had a biopsy two days ago.”

“Did it rule it out?” I ask, knowing by my mother’s reaction it was a negative.

“Was inconclusive. They need to do another,” he answers, looking me in the eye.

“When?”

“Tomorrow. I’m sure it’s fine,” he sighs out. “Hell, I feel no different today than I did ten years ago. Your mom is...Well, she’s more worried than I am. She got a little bossy and is jumping the damn gun, so I told her to chill. Wrong thing to say. She needs to at least be given the illusion that all the research, phone calls, and planning gives her control over the situation when, in fact, it doesn’t do shit but make her even more crazy.” He chuckles at that. “She’s ready to have me get the damn thing removed, and there is no fucking way that’s gonna happen.”

“Unless it needs to,” I tell him. Then I remember I’m not on post and need to tone it down, so I add, “Right?”

“Not gonna need to.” He shrugs and turns away. “Let’s make sure that’s what your mom believes, too. She doesn’t need to stress.”

“Got it.”

“Brother and sisters, too. They don’t need to know.” He turns back and looks at me. “And you. This is no big deal. I don’t want you to worry over something that’s not in our control.”

I nod. “Understood.”

“Good. You know how women are. It’s really no big deal.” He pats me on the shoulder before walking toward the door to go inside. “Dinner at Harper’s tonight; you in?”

“Of course,” I answer, following him inside.

After I watch Mom and Lauren’s interaction to figure out if Lauren has a clue about Ryan, I realize she doesn’t. They are simply looking over the bag of books she just got.

“Who’s hungry?” Ryan asks.

“Let me run my bag upstairs. I’ll be right down to help,” I tell them as I walk toward the stairway.

Once in my room, I put my bag down and look around. Walking to the shelves of trophies, I pick up one of my IAC championship basketball trophies. Our high school basketball team won the IAC’s two years in a row. Mine sit right next to the one my father’s team won in his junior year of high school. I remember the day my paternal grandfather gave it to me. I didn’t want to take it because I saw it hurt my grandmother. My grandfather insisted I put it next to my own, while she said it would be great if I brought mine to the house and left it there with his.

I take my dad’s in my hand and sit on the edge of the bed as I look at it, wondering how upset he would be about what I said to Ava.

Taking in a deep breath, I shake my head as I stand back up and place it back on the shelf. What I said to her was the damn truth, yet it didn’t need to be said.

I walk over and look out my bedroom window that faces the Link’s house. Ava’s room is directly across from mine, and below it is her family’s kitchen window.

“Fuck.” I slide my hand over the top of my head as I feel my blood begin to boil.

Regret isn’t something I feel a lot, but I’m feeling it now.

I heard her cry. I saw her stumble. I saw her pain, the pain I caused her. I saw the way she looked at me the morning after that fucking British drummer stayed at her place.

I showed up after accepting the text invitation to join her brother and father at the gym. I shouldn’t have gone, but I couldn’t stop myself. I needed to see it with my own two eyes. I needed to see her eyes that could hide the truth from everyone but me.

Never me.

That fucking box took up half the damn kitchen, and those fucking balloons the British shit sent her floated around the stupid, motherfucking kindergarten-like craft project he had made for her like a big reminder that he fucked her.

I know damn well she has been with him before. Never when I was home, though.

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