Because of Logan
“You’d better not puke in my car!”
River waves a hand at me, dismissing my warning.
I’ve lived in her shadow my entire life.
River has the kind of beauty that stops people in their tracks, be it male, female, old, or young. Even little kids gawk at her. She doesn’t flaunt it, doesn’t even try. Never has to. Teachers go easier on her and people trip over their feet in her presence.
I sometimes resent her for hitting the jackpot in the DNA lottery, but she’s my sister, and she’s never held her beauty over my head.
I do it on my own. River can’t help the way she looks any more than I can.
We are opposites. She’s beautiful, where I’m plain. She’s a brunette, where I’m blonde. She’s an extrovert. I like to hide. She’s confident and full of life, while everything about me is blah.
Just once, I’d like to be truly seen as me instead of a faded copy of the woman sprawled in my passenger seat.
I’m glad my fraternal twin has enough sense to call me to get her from the party when her ride hooked up with some guy and left her to fend for herself, but I’m so mad at River for being drunk.
We come to a stop sign and I look at her.
“What did you do, take a dive into a vat of beer? You stink.”
The words sound harsh, but there’s no bite in them and River knows it.
“Nope. But someone spilled a full cup on me.”
She lifts her left arm to show me the damage. She’s wearing a black sweater, so there’s nothing to see, but I sure can smell it.
My eyes are back on the road as we make our way home. Not a lot of traffic at 2:30 a.m.
A few more minutes and I’ll be back in my warm bed.
“I’ll never understand it. What’s the point of getting so drunk?”
I have the urge to shake some sense into her and hug her at the same time. Something is eating at my sister and I have no idea what.
“I’m not that drunk. And why are you so mad? It’s not like I interrupted a hot date or anything.”
Her response burns me a little, and my face flushes in anger and embarrassment. The curse of fair skin is that everything shows. My shoulders tense and my jaw clamps shut in the way I’ve grown used to. This happens whenever someone says or does something that hurts me. True, I haven’t dated anyone in two years, but still, hearing those words upsets me. I suck in a deep breath and will my body to relax, my jaw to unlock, and I open my mouth so words can come out.
“I had a date with a book.” Lame, I know.
“Please, that’s all you do, Skye. Read, study, work, bake. You should try living a little. Like me.”
Her speech is slower, a little slurred, but River’s quick wit is not dulled by the alcohol she consumed.
Easy for her to say. You’d think with being twins, even if fraternal twins, the gene distribution would be somewhat even. It isn’t. But as much as I sometimes wish to be more like River and have her confidence, her cleverness, and yes, her looks, a bigger part of me is glad I’m nothing like her. I wouldn’t be able to handle all the attention she gets. I love my sister and I know she loves me. She always has my back, and she stands up for me and tries to include me in whatever she’s involved with.
I’m the one who can’t rise to the occasion.
I’m the one who would rather be alone than in a crowd.
I can’t fault River for her blunt honesty. It’s the truth. And I’d always rather have the truth, even if it stings a little. Or a lot.
“You’re living enough for the both of us. Someone has to be the responsible one. We’re not even two full weeks into the school year.”
I shake my head in disbelief and mutter under my breath.
“So? I have the whole weekend to recover, and what better way to start our senior year in college?”
I have no answer to that. I can feel her watching me, waiting, head resting on a hand, elbow propped on a raised knee. A yawn followed by a loud hiccup interrupts the brief moment of silence, making me jump. I expect the smell of sour beer to fill the small space between us in the car, but no. Her breath smells minty, like she’s just brushed her teeth. It’s not fair. If I hadn’t shared a womb with her, I’d think she was a fairy, a vampire, or some other beautiful and mystical creature. That annoys me even more.
“Seriously! Did you have to drink that much? We’re not even twenty-one yet.”
“Pfft. Another week.”
I give her a quick side-eye glance and put my full attention on the road ahead of us.
The light turns from green to yellow as soon as I reach the intersection. I curse under my breath. My right foot leaves the gas, but it’s too late. I can’t brake now. My hands grasp the wheel tighter as I step on the gas again and speed up in an attempt to get through the wide intersection before the traffic light turns red.
“I went through a yellow light.” I speak more to myself than River. She hears me anyway.
“It’s just a yellow light. You need to relax. You need a drink,” River slurs.
Ugh. No, thank you. I can’t imagine what kind of drunk I’d be, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be the beautiful, sexy, and fun kind like Miss-Drop-Dead-Gorgeous-Every-Guy-I-Ever-Met-Fell-In-Love-With-Me. AKA, my sister.
I’m not bitter at all.
Red and blue lights in my rearview mirror catch my attention a second before I hear the police siren.
There’s no denying that River is drunk, or at least very tipsy if the claim of her beer bath is to be believed. The smell of alcohol fills the car and hangs heavily in the heat I have blasting through the vents. With one last glance at the rearview mirror, I turn the blinkers on and drive into an empty strip mall, park below one of the light poles, turn off the ignition, and look down at myself.
“Shit! Shit! Shit!”
When River called, I rolled out of bed, slipped on my pink bunny slippers, grabbed my keys, and left. It’s just a four-mile drive to the party, and I wasn’t planning on leaving the car. I didn’t even grab a jacket. I’m wearing a pink tank top and red boy-shorts PJs. And did I mention pink bunny slippers? It’s an early birthday gift Mom shipped to us. Mom’s idea of a joke, because Riggings University has a D1 hockey team. Mom said this is our last chance to be puck bunnies since we’re graduating in May.
River leans into me, squints, and giggles when she sees what’s on my feet.
“You’re wearing Fuzzy One and Fuzzy Two!”
She named our slippers when we got them—hers are called Dick and Cock. Don’t ask—but right about now, both Fuzzy One and Fuzzy Two have the urge to kick my sister’s ass.
I’m angry at her for putting us in this situation, for all the drinking in the last few months. For not letting me in and talking to me. I don’t know what’s going on with River. She’s always been a free spirit, full of life, but she’s never been irresponsible before.
Not like this.
She’s leaning over my knees, the seatbelt stretched to the max, and is trying to pet my slippers. I grab her by the shoulders and push her off me and back into her own seat. My death glare never fazed her before, so I try sweet instead.
“Don’t say a word, okay? Please stay quiet and let me handle it.”
A knock on my window makes me jump, and I push the button to roll it all the way down. I find myself staring at someone’s narrow waist and hips.
Just how tall is this guy?
A light shines on my face and then over to the passenger and back seats before returning to my face. I instinctively raise my hand to block the light in my eyes.
“Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“I went through a yellow light. It changed as soon as I reached the intersection. I’m sorry, Officer.”
My voice is steady, even. It doesn’t betray how nervous I am. I can’t quite see his face, the flashlight still somewhat shining in my eyes.
“Going through a yellow light when it just turns from green wouldn’t get you pulled over, but you also have a brake light out.”
And idiot that I am, I look over my shoulder as if I’d be able to see the broken light.
“Yes, you do. The left one is out. Make sure to get that fixed. Can I have your license, registration, and insurance, please?”
I’ve never been pulled over before. This feels a little like being in a movie or TV show. Hopefully, not an episode of Cops.
Reaching across the car, I open the glove compartment—thank God, River is quiet for once—and take the registration and insurance cards and hand them to him.
He looks at them for a minute.
“Who’s David Devereux?”
The car may be ours, but it’s still under Dad’s name.
He looks at the IDs again. I still can’t see his face. “You’re a little far from home.”
“We go to Riggins.”
He nods. This is a college town, so I’m sure I’m not the first RU student he’s stopped. Nor the last.
“And the driver’s license?”
“Oh, yeah. Sorry about that.”
I turn around to grab the license from my purse and it’s not there.
No, no, no. A moment of panic hits me like a punch to the chest. Did I lose it? Did River lose it? I search for it in a rush, behind our seats, the car floor, and back where it’s supposed to be—on the console between the two front seats—as if it would magically appear there.
Then I remember. I know exactly where my purse is. Back home, on the chair where I left it minutes ago. I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to gather a calmness I don’t feel before turning to the window.
“Officer, I’m sorry, but it seems I forgot my wallet at home, and my license is in it.”
He shifts outside the door, as if in slow motion. I watch as broad shoulders fill the entire space of the open window. He’s illuminated by a parking lot light, and when his face comes into view and he looks at me at eye level, my chest contracts as air leaves my lungs in a rush.
He’s beautiful, like someone took the genes of Chris Hemsworth and Ian Somerhalder, put them in a bottle, shook it all around, and poured this perfect representation of the Y chromosome. His clear blue eyes are in sharp contrast with his tanned skin and dark hair. A strong, square jaw, his bottom lip a little fuller than the top.
He narrows his eyes at me, his lips a thin line. He looks angry. What did I do?
“Step out of the car, please.”
“What? But . . . why?”
For a moment, he doesn’t look like he’ll answer me. His eyes shift over my face, my shoulders, my chest. My heart is beating so furiously, I imagine he can see it hammering against my breasts. What’s happening to me? I don’t understand my body’s reaction. My stomach clenches, my breath catches, and I feel the need to squeeze my thighs. A small gasp leaves my lips when I realize . . . I’m aroused. I’m nervous, embarrassed, worried about my sister being drunk, scared even, but the primary emotion running through me at this very moment is . . . lust. What the heck? This is so not me.
My brain and my body are at war. The even-tempered and rational me is being challenged by a hormonal reaction the likes of which I’ve never encountered. I suck in a breath, shake the lustful thoughts off, and try to get back to the task at hand. My missing driver’s license. When our eyes meet, I’m certain he can see all of it in my face. My cheeks burn.
His eyes open slightly, and his lips move but stay silent. He blinks a few times and his pupils darken. He hesitates. His gaze falls to my chest again, then he looks away.
“Step out of the car, please.”
His voice is a little huskier now.
“I smell alcohol on you.”
“What? No, I’m not drinking—”
“Nope! That’s me, Officer.”
River leans into me again, not heeding my plea to stay quiet. Half of her body is on top of mine. Thank God for the seatbelt or she might have face-planted into my lap.
And then the giggles start.
Oh, please, no. Not the giggles. River giggles a lot when she’s drunk. The fact I know this is evidence of how often I’ve seen her in this state in the last few months. I try to push her back, but she weighs about a ton right now. What is it about alcohol? Add a few ounces to a one-hundred-twenty-pound girl and suddenly, it feels like she has the body mass of a football player.
I manage to guide her back, and River flops to her seat and squirms, trying to tuck her long legs under her.
He moves impatiently outside my window, his attention now on River. Maybe he’ll go easy on us, if what they say about cops and pretty girls is true.
“Is she okay?” he asks me, but he’s looking at her.
“Yes, she’ll sleep it off and be fine in the morning.”
He studies my sister for a long moment, and whatever he’s looking for must satisfy him because he looks back at me.
His eyes do a quick once-over of my face again, lingering on my lips for a second and back to my eyes. Is that . . . interest? No. There’s no way this gorgeous guy is checking me out. I’m out of my mind for even thinking it. Plus, hello? This is not the place nor time to even think such a thing. Damn hormones!
He clears his throat. “That’s twice I’ve asked you to step out of the car. Don’t make me ask you again.” His tone is half command and half plea.
He taps the door and opens it for me.
I remove my seatbelt, step out, and stand to the side.
And bunny slippers.
He leans into the car through the open door and looks at River, studying her again.
For a fraction of a second, I think maybe, just maybe, I’ve found a guy who’s immune to River’s appeal. Maybe he’s my unicorn.
Of all the things I should be worrying about right now—my getting a ticket, River being drunk and underage, although he doesn’t know it, what I’m wearing, River saying or doing something River-like, and my having to call our parents to bail us out—my out of place unrequited insta-lust is not one of them.
Like I said. Stupid.