“If you ever need me, I’m just a phone call away.” He snapped his fingers a few times, and then began singing—horribly—a very loud and heartfelt chorus from “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5.
“That’s a little high for you,” I said, stifling laughter.
I covered my face, and then the giggling began. Trenton sang louder, and I covered my ears, shaking my head and feigning disapproval.
“I guess.” He shrugged. “Mikey really does say that.”
Trenton pulled into the parking lot of my apartment, and pulled into the spot next to my Jeep.
He turned to me, an apologetic frown on his face. “No. I need to start saving more money. I’m going to get a place of my own soon.”
“Won’t your dad miss your help with the rent?”
“I could move out now, but I’m saving up to help him, too. His pension ain’t that great.”
“You’re going to keep paying rent to your dad after you move out?”
Trenton picked at his steering wheel. “Yeah. He’s done a lot for us.”
Trenton was nothing like I thought he was. “Thanks again. I owe you one.”
One side of Trenton’s mouth turned up. “Can I make you dinner?”
“In order to pay you back, I would need to make you dinner.”
“You’re paying me back by letting me cook at your place.”
I thought for a minute. “Okay. Only if you bring me a list of groceries, and you let me buy.”
I climbed out of the car and shut the door. The headlights painted my silhouette across the front of my apartment as I twisted the key in the dead bolt and then twisted the knob. I waved once to Trenton as he backed away, but then he pulled back into the parking spot, hopped out, and jogged to my door.
“Isn’t that . . .” He nodded toward a car driving fast in our direction.
Coby’s electric-blue Camaro jerked to a stop behind both my Jeep and Trenton’s Intrepid, and he hopped out, slamming the car door. I wasn’t sure if I should insist he come inside so the neighbors wouldn’t hear, or keep it outside to prevent my apartment from being trashed.
Trenton steadied himself, preparing to stop whatever Coby might do. Coby stomped toward me, his face severe, his eyes red and puffy, and then he crashed into me, wrapped his arms around me so tight I could barely breathe.
“I’m so sorry, Cami,” he said between sobs. “I’m such a piece of shit!”
Trenton watched us, looking as surprised as I felt. After a short pause, I hugged Coby back, patting him with one hand. “It’s okay, Coby. It’s okay. We’ll figure it out.”
“I got rid of everything. I swear. I won’t touch it again. I’ll pay you back.”
“Okay. It’s okay,” I said. We were rocking back and forth, and probably looked a little silly.
“Dad’s still on a rampage. I couldn’t listen to it anymore.”
We both pulled away. “Come in for a little bit. I have to get ready for work soon, but you can hang out here until I leave.”
Trenton shoved his hands in his pockets. “You need me to stay?”
I shook my head. “No, he’s just upset. But thank you for sticking around to be sure.”
Trenton nodded, glanced behind me, and then, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, leaned over to kiss my cheek, and then turned to walk away.
I stood in the doorway for a moment. The part of my skin where his lips touched still tingled.
“What happened to the guy from California?” Coby sniffed.
“He’s still in California,” I said, closing the door and leaning against it.
Coby raised an eyebrow. “You’ve never brought a guy to the house. And I don’t kiss my friends. Just sayin’.”
“He kissed me on the cheek,” I said, sitting next to him on the couch. “I think we have more important things to talk about, don’t you?”
“I’m just going to quit cold turkey.”
“That didn’t work out so well last time, did it?”
Coby frowned. “I have bills to pay, Cami. If bill collectors start calling the house, Dad’ll find out.”
I patted his knee. “Let me worry about that. You worry about getting clean.”
Coby’s eyes lost focus. “Why are you so good to me, Cami? I’m such a loser.” His face compressed, and he began to cry again.
Depression was one of the side effects of anabolic steroids, so it was important for Coby to get help with quitting. I sat with him on the love seat until he was calm, and then I got ready for work. He flipped on the television and sat quietly, probably glad to be away from the constant war that waged inside my parents’ home. If Dad wasn’t yelling at Mom, he was yelling at one of the boys, or they were yelling at each other. Just one more reason why I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Living with that was enough to get depressed. Coby wasn’t quite ready to move out on his own, so unlike the rest of us, he was stuck there.
After changing clothes and freshening up my makeup, I grabbed my purse and keys, and reached for the doorknob.
“You’re just going to stay here?” I asked.
“Don’t do anything that will make me tell you no the next time you want to come over.”
“I’m not staying long. Just maybe until Dad goes to sleep.”
“Yeah?” I said, jerking to a stop, and poking my head back in.
I smiled. “Love you, too. It’s going to be all right. I promise.”
He nodded, and I jogged out to the Smurf, praying that it would start. Thank God it did.
My drive to work was spent worrying about Coby, and T.J., and Trent, and still trying to psych myself up for a busy Saturday night.
Raegan was already behind the east bar, prepping and wiping things down.
“Hey, lovey!” Raegan said. Her bright smile immediately fell when her eyes met mine. “Uh-oh. You went to your parents’ today, didn’t you?”
“Trent went with me, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Chase found out I had a second job.”
“Have you been with Kody all day?”
“Ssh! On a break. Until I get some things figured out.”
“Then where were you all day?”