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  • Into the Deep(Into the Deep #1)(51) by Samantha Young
  • Somehow I managed to keep calm as I looked back at him. “Dad, I have to move past it.”

    “Move past it …” He glanced at me, still furious. “He wasn’t there. He didn’t watch his little girl—the strongest, bravest kid I’ve ever met—cry for days when he left and then just go numb. I remember it was months before I heard you laugh again. And even then, we never got you back the way you were. With what happened to Brett and then Jake taking away so much, you grew this look, this cynical little look in your eye no kid your age should have.”

    I shuddered, wrapping my arms around my stomach. “Dad, don’t.”

    “I’m saying this now and then we’re done talking about it.” He shot me a hard look. “Letting this boy back in your life is a mistake. Fix it before he breaks you again.”

    Every year a six-foot Christmas tree took pride of place in front of the sitting room window. Pale white lights glittered over every branch. Metallic strings of red and silver wove from branch to branch like scalloped lace. You could tell which gifts Mom had wrapped because they matched the tree. And even though we were twenty and twenty-four years old, stockings hung from the mantel for Andie and me. To my delight, this year a third stocking hung in the middle with Rick’s name on it.

    I had to admit it I almost peed my pants laughing upon discovering my mom had sewn his name on and hung a stocking for a thirty-four-year-old police detective.

    Apparently Rick had graciously thanked her, his mouth twitching with laughter. Andie had had to leave the room so she wouldn’t embarrass Mom by collapsing into a fit of giggles.

    I wasn’t nearly as considerate.

    Mom didn’t even flinch. She just couldn’t see what was wrong with mothering a man who was only ten years her junior.

    “So did you try haggis?” Rick asked, sipping at his hot cocoa. Mom had made cocoa for all us of and we were snuggled up warm in the sitting room. It was Christmas Eve, the fire roaring, the light darkening in the early afternoon sky. The five of us were relaxing and just enjoying being together. Rick was raised by his single mother—he’d never met his father—but she passed five years ago. He’d gotten a Christmas vacation this year and was spending the whole time with Andie and us. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I was lying with my back pressed against the bottom of Dad’s armchair, my legs stretched out alongside the fire. I sipped my cocoa and nodded. “Yeah, it wasn’t as bad as you’d think, but it’s hard to fully enjoy something when you know it’s encased inside sheep stomach.”

    Andie made a gagging noise. “I can’t believe you tried it.” She frowned. “No, wait, scratch that. It’s you. Of course you tried it.”

    “I also tried a deep-fried Mars bar. I’m ashamed to admit I tried it a couple of times.”

    “That’s revolting,” Mom huffed. “You told me you were eating well.”

    “At least I’m eating.”

    That garnered a grunt.

    “I hope you aren’t drinking too much with you being legal over there?” Dad asked, pulling gently on my ponytail.

    I craned my neck to grin up at him. “Would I overimbibe just because of a legality?”


    Laughing, I turned back around, my expression mischievous as I shared a look with Andie. “I’ve hardly touched a drop, Dad.”

    “Don’t lie to your father, Charlotte, it’s beneath you,” Mom teased.

    “Then don’t ask questions you’re not going to like the answer to.”

    “She’s got you there, folks,” Rick murmured, smiling into his mug.

    Mom used Rick’s input to turn the conversation to grandbabies (Mom could somehow manage to turn any conversation to grandbabies) and my phone buzzed, distracting me.

    A text from Jake.

    Supergirl is on the television. Made me think of you. Hope you’re having a nice time at home.

    There was something placating in his text. Usually he teased me or cracked a joke, starting a battle of wits. I wondered if he was still stinging from Dad’s cut, and then I wondered why I felt bad about that. Feeling too hot all of a sudden, I got up and wandered into the kitchen. Leaning against the cool countertops I stared at my phone, trying to decide whether to answer him.

    “Was that Jake?”

    I jerked my head over my shoulder in surprise, unaware that Andie had followed me. “Yeah.”

    My big sister’s lips pinched together. “You look miserable. I mean, you’re putting on a good front but we all see it.”

    Honestly, I was sick of everyone telling me what it was I was feeling. I was sick of everyone reminding me of what Jake had done and how I’d reacted. It was hard enough attempting to wade through my own emotions without having to bear the weight of my family’s feelings regarding Jake too. “Maybe I’d be okay if everyone would stop going on about my relationship with Jake like it was this epic thing.”

    “It was. It is.” Andie took a determined step forward. “You know it was. That’s why you’re hurting so much. Please don’t rewrite history in order to accommodate him in your life again. Look, it’s obvious Jake cares about you still or he wouldn’t be so adamant about remaining in your life. But he has to know how selfish it is of him to put you through this. So ask yourself if that’s a friend worth keeping.”

    What she said was scarily similar to what Lowe had said and I immediately felt a headache coming on. “I’m going for a walk.” I strode toward the kitchen door, shoving my feet in my boots. “Will you let Mom and Dad know? I’ve got my cell.”

    Andie nodded. “Yeah, sweetie. Take all the time you need.”

    I left the house, taking in deep breaths of crisp air. My feet really did the thinking and before I knew it, I was standing in the empty parking lot of the high school.

    All around me was silence but in my head, I could hear the hum of chatter, the shouts, the laughter. In front of me was just a parking space but in my head was a crowd standing around a figure curled up on the ground …

    Chapter Eighteen

    It was Wednesday, the day before Brett’s funeral.

    Still no word from Jake.

    Although Lukas had returned to school, Jake was still not in attendance. I’d gotten a sympathetic nod from Lukas at the main entrance yesterday morning but he’d disappeared when I’d approached to ask after Jake.

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