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Bentley (Hawthorne Brothers Book One)(10)

By:M.L. Young



“Godspeed,” Maggie said before hitting play on the recording.

•••

I sat up in bed later that night going over homework. The lamp on my nightstand was the only thing illuminating my room. With the blinds closed, I heard a car drive by our townhouse as I tapped the eraser of my pencil against my book and tried to remember definitions that I knew would be on my upcoming test.

They weren’t easy, instead more difficult than I had imagined. I pulled out my index cards and started to write down the definitions so that I could study them wherever and whenever. That method always seemed to bring me the most success, so it seemed right to do it now.

I’d texted Bentley back earlier and confirmed our plans for tomorrow night, dinner, but hadn’t talked to him since. He didn’t even respond to me, which made me a little worried, but I knew that he wasn’t huge on the whole phone thing. I guess it was a little nice, not having to constantly text and talk to someone, instead getting some off time and some privacy, but not having any contact at all was still a little disheartening. I didn’t want to talk to him only when I saw him. I felt like I would get to know him better if we could talk a little in the meantime. Maybe I’d talk to him about it.

I looked at my clock, about to strike midnight. It was later than I usually stayed up. I yawned, tears forming in my eyes, before I shut my books and set them down on the floor. I took a sip of water, as I always kept a glass next to my bed, and pulled my comforter up over me before turning my lamp off. The room became dark—the only light from the streetlamps outside as their light slipped through the slits in my blinds.

I thought of him, of our time together, as I wondered if he thought about it too. Was I just another night to him, or was I something more and better than that? I hoped for the latter, but I knew I had to prepare myself for the former. He was known as a sweet talker and a ladies’ man in school, so maybe that kind of behavior hadn’t really changed. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I did have to protect myself, no matter how handsome and charming he was.

I yawned one more time, my jaw starting to feel unhinged from how big it was, before I wiped the tears forming from my eyes once more and unlocked my phone to check it before bed. There was nothing there.

I set it back down, turning it on silent mode, and took a sip of water before lying back down and moving my legs to the cold spots under the covers. I closed my eyes, my mind beginning to shut down, as my breathing grew deep and I began to drift off to sleep.





Chapter Nine



Bentley



Waking up to an empty bed was horrible.

As I woke up, rolling out of bed and sitting on the edge, I looked out the window in my bedroom to the sight outside. It was white, bone white, as small snowflakes fell from the heavens and stuck to everything outside. I sighed, hating to deal with the snow, as it always screwed up my car and made it look dirty. Besides, that much horsepower could be deadly when it was icy or slippery outside. It was like being in an ice rink with just your socks on.

I put on an old t-shirt and went downstairs to put some coffee in the pot. It began to brew and I wiped off the condensation from my kitchen window.

“Well, looks like I’ll have to shovel today,” I said under my breath.

The coffee soon stopped dripping and I poured myself a mug before putting in a little bit of cream and sugar and stirring it around. I looked at my phone, seeing a text from my dad asking if I could come over today to help shovel the driveway, to which I obliged and said I’d be there in an hour or so. I didn’t mind helping my parents out, I loved them, but boy did I wish there was no snow at all.

After getting ready for the day and packing up some supplies in my car, I drove over to my parents’, passing by a few plows on the way as the snow began to pick up pace. I was supposed to meet Anna tonight, but the snow made me a bit worried about whether we’d even get to do our plans. I didn’t want either of us to become stranded.

My father was outside with the garage open as I pulled into the driveway and into the open third space in the garage.

“Thanks for coming,” he said as I got out of the car.

“No problem, Dad. I have some supplies here if we need them,” I said.

“I’m getting the salt ready for after shoveling. Do you want to start doing that and I’ll come help soon?” he asked.

“Yeah, that’s fine,” I said, grabbing one of the large-mouthed shovels he’d propped up against the wall.

The plastic shovel scraped against the asphalt as the snow, still falling, piled up in the shovel with each push. Their driveway was rather long, probably the longest in the neighborhood, and I had many memories of doing this all winter long with my brothers. I only wished they were here to help right now. I could sure use it.

My father soon came out to help, digging around the mailbox where the plows had piled up the snow. The mailman wouldn’t come by if it was blocked, so he always made it a point to get that first before anything else. I turned around at the end of the driveway, seeing a light sprinkling of snow now sticking to the areas I’d already shoveled, which I admit infuriated me a little bit. At least the salt was going down soon. It would melt the snow enough and hopefully keep more of it away.

“Are you boys almost done?” my mother asked from the front door.

“About five more minutes,” I yelled back before she went back inside.

With my cheeks feeling numb and huffing for breath, I scooped up the rest of the snow and chucked it into the yard before my dad and I walked back up the driveway, slowly, towards the garage where we put away our supplies and stomped the snow off our boots.

“Coming in?” he asked.

“Yeah, I can,” I said, and we went inside and took off our boots, gloves, hats, and coats.

“I made you boys some hot chocolate, just the way you like it,” my mother said before I went up and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Thank you, Mom. Can’t wait,” I said, grabbing the warm mug with my cold hands.

“Oh, are you free tonight to come over? I was thinking you could join us for dinner,” she said.

“Actually, I’m busy tonight,” I said.

“Work?” she asked.

“No, I’m going out with someone,” I said.

“A girl?” she asked, almost in disbelief.

“Yes, Mom, a girl,” I said, sitting down on the couch.

“Well, tell me about her. What’s her name? What does she do? Is she from around here? How long have you been seeing her?” she asked.

My mom, like most moms, liked grilling her children and knowing all aspects of their lives. I didn’t blame her, and I certainly loved that she cared, which was more than I could say about the parents of some of my friends growing up. Still, though, I was a grown man and talking about all of this with her was a little embarrassing. That was a big perk of growing up and moving out of their house—I could do and see whom I wanted without everybody else knowing.

“We haven’t been seeing each other that long. I think it’s going well,” I said.

“And her name?” she asked, perking up with a smile.

“Her name is Anna,” I said before taking a sip.

“At least he’s over Candice,” my father said.

“Don’t talk like that. Candice was a fine girl and it’s a shame it didn’t work out between them,” my mother said.

“She actually contacted me the other day,” I said.

“What? Really?” my mother asked.

If there ever was such a thing as lady crushes, my mother definitely had one on Candice, my old girlfriend. Yes, the great Bentley Hawthorne was once tied down to a single woman, at least for about a year, but it didn’t quite work out in the sense that I caught her cheating on me, though I never told anybody about that. I just told my family we had different thoughts on the future and left it at that. I don’t know why, but I guess I just didn’t want to taint her image for them, even though she definitely deserved it. I guess it was better to just cut her off and forget about it than draw out some cry-fest.

“Yeah, really,” I said.

“Are you two seeing each other again?” she asked.

“No, I don’t think that will be happening,” I said.

“Well, what if things changed since you broke up? What if you want the same things now?” she asked.

“I’m seeing Anna now, Mom,” I said.

“And I’m sure Anna is such a kind young woman, but you had something with Candice. You had a history and a life together, and you can’t just forget that. It might be best to look into that again,” she said.

“Can we change the subject? I don’t feel like talking about this anymore,” I said.

“Sure, honey. Are you hungry? I can make you something,” she said.

“No, I’m fine,” I said.

“Ed? You hungry?” she asked my dad.

“Yeah, I could eat,” he said.

My mother got up and whisked herself into the kitchen as I sat looking at the wall, sipping my hot chocolate, and thinking about Candice. I didn’t want to think about her, not even a little bit, but there was something about hearing your ex’s name and talking about them that makes you relive those moments and think about them once again.

Candice and I did have a good time together, that is, when she wasn’t fucking another guy, and I got where my mom was coming from, but I just couldn’t put myself in that situation again. I loved her, probably more than I should have, and even though Anna and I weren’t even officially dating I still felt like seeing how things went with her was far more important than ever even talking to Candice again. That chapter of my life was closed, and I didn’t plan to reopen the book.

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