Ten Thirty. She was late. According to him, anyway. It was too late in the night to be out with a stranger. Because that was what AJ was to Tommy; a stranger. One with tricks up his sleeve, too.
Sitting on a wicker chair on his front porch, he had a perfect view of Andy’s house down the street. He was glad she lived on the other side of the street, otherwise he’d be screwed sitting out here.
A dark SUV strolled casually down the street, and as it passed him, Tommy immediately acknowledged it as AJ’s. He sat up straighter in his seat and watched as it pulled into Andy’s driveway and the passengers let themselves out.
Andy and AJ. Nick had been right, no matter how bad Tommy wanted him to be wrong.
But nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Andy was standing a few feet away from AJ, somewhat distanced from him, Tommy could tell by her posture. He was getting something out of the back of the car for her and her attention was being focused on something else. Then AJ mumbled something from inside the back of the car and she laughed. It made Tommy’s blood run cold.
She’d never laughed like that before. So carefree and so... so happy. With AJ? It couldn’t be, could it?
Tommy was confused.
“So... still living at home?” AJ asked casually, and Andy detected the mocking tone in his voice immediately.
“Yeah,” she replied, eyeing him curiously. “MY parents still love ME.”
“Harsh, Andy,” AJ chuckled, “Really harsh.”
“You had it coming,” she pointed out.
“You,” he began, taking her by the waist and pulling her to him. “Are going to test my patience to the extremes. I can feel it already.”
“Good,” she squirmed out of his hold. “I’m gonna make you work hard for this.”
“Like you haven’t already? Or have you forgotten your stubborness toward me since day one?”
“Make me,” he grinned, bringing her to him again and kissing her soft lips with an urgency all his own.
He didn’t know what to expect as he rounded the large vehicle, but what Tommy encountered was certainly something he’d NEVER have expected. Especially from those two.
Thinking he was speechless, he surprised himself when he blurted, “What the hell is this?!”
The pair broke apart quickly, AJ’s expression one of confusion. Andy, however, couldn’t have shown more surprise if she tried.
“Tommy!” she’ exclaimed, “What are you doing here? What’s going on?”
“You tell me,” Tommy muttered, glancing toward AJ. “I’d really like to know.”
“Look man,” AJ began, “We were just--”
“I didn’t ask YOU,” Tommy interrupted him.
“Tommy,” Andy said sternly. “What’s wrong with you?”
“What’s wrong with me?” he asked incredulously. “You mean you don’t know? Look around you, Andy, you figure it out!”
“Listen,” she sighed. “I don’t know what happened, Tommy, honest. I mean, yesterday I was ready to kill him, and in the blink of an eye, we were talking to each other, apologizing and what have you. All I know now,” she paused slightly to look at AJ. “Is that I like him. More than I thought I could. I’m sorry if you don’t, but I’m not going to change any decisions made regarding him, you, Nick, or anyone else.”
This was too much; Tommy couldn’t just stand around there any longer and take in Andy’s detirmined look, or the victorious grin on AJ’s face. He had been hurt in the worst way just then, and nothing andyone said or did from that point on could change what he felt inside. Hatred, even more than before, toward AJ. Disappointment, betrayal, and unrequited love toward Andy.
He sighed heavily, resignation apparent, and turned hastily and walked the short distance from Andy’s driveway back to his own home, leaving Andy staring after him.
“Did I do something wrong?” she whispered aloud, to no one in particular.
“You didn’t,” AJ answered her, putting his arm around her comfortingly, “He did.”
“Yeah,” he nodded solemnly. “He’s letting this come between the friendship you share. That’s what he’s doing wrong.”
[chapter list | chapter twenty three]