Trashed / Page 66

Page 66


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A few turns, and then he’s pulling up to a tall two-story house, all brick and adobe and dark beams set on an acre or so. There’s a Lexus sedan, an older two-door BMW, and a new four-door Wrangler in the driveway.

Adam pulls up behind the Wrangler, shuts the car off, and gives me a happy grin. “Ready?”

I stare at the three cars, at the expensive but still modest home—modest in comparison to what I imagine Adam could probably afford, even though I have no idea what he’s worth. I realize how far we are from Hollywood and the studios, and something inside me makes a connection.

“This isn’t where you live, is it.” This comes out as a statement.

He grins even more widely. “Nope. At least, not anymore.” He gets out, and then ducks his head back in when I don’t move to exit the Tesla. “Come on, Des.”

I shake my head. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

He sighs in irritation, closes his door, and rounds the hood to my side. Opening my door, he kneels beside me. “Des. This isn’t a big deal. They’re excited to meet you.”

“I’ve been on a plane all day!” I hiss. “I didn’t take a shower this morning. I’m not wearing any makeup, and I’m wearing fucking yoga pants. Not how I wanted to look when I met your family.”

He rolls his eyes. “Believe me, they’re the last people on earth who would care how you look, babe. And you look stunning.”

“You haven’t told me a single thing about your family.”

This isn’t true. I know he has two sisters and I know their names—Lizzy and Lia—and that they’re twins. I know his mom and dad are still married, and that their names are Lani and Erik.

“Liar. I have too.” He grabs my hands and pulls me up, and I let him pull me out of the car. “Now, come on. You’ll like them. I promise.”

He takes my hand and leads me between the Lexus and the BMW, down a walkway lined with dark red stones that leads to the front door, which is easily ten feet high and a rich brown, with black iron fittings. Now that I’m closer to the house, I realize it’s quite a bit larger than I’d originally estimated. My heart pounds.

Adam pushes the door open, and we’re in a cool, airy foyer, the floor a blue-and-white Spanish mosaic tile, a staircase to the right, a formal living room to the left, and a kitchen visible beyond a short hallway. Adam kicks his shoes off, and I do the same.

That, taking my shoes off before entering the home, is a marker that I’m really not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Where I come from, no one gave a shit whether you had your shoes on or not. I mean, why would you take your shoes off? It wasn’t like it mattered. Adam takes his shoes off in a way that makes me think it’s a life-long ritual. Walk in, take your shoes off.

I can hear voices, a male and several females.

Adam leads me into the kitchen, and then stops just inside. No one sees us at first. There’s music playing, top forty pop. A tall, slender woman with dark skin and long, straight black hair stands at an island set in the center of the kitchen, slicing cheese. She’s most likely Adam’s mother. Her head is down to focus on what she’s doing, so I’m not sure yet. Sitting on the stools on the opposite side of the island are three more people.

All I can see of them are their backs, since they’re faced away from us, but I can guess their basic identities. The man is even taller than Adam and nearly as well-built, but he has fair skin and wavy brown hair. The other two are his sisters, I think, with Adam’s dark skin coloring and black hair.

It occurs to me that Adam comes from an interracial family.

The woman looks up first, sees Adam. He shakes his head, and the woman somehow keeps her expression neutral as Adam creeps up behind the other three sitting at the island. They’re all munching on crackers and sliced cheese, chatting and laughing with easy familiarity.

A real family.

A normal family.

It’s hard to breathe for some reason.

Adam lets my hand go and tiptoes up behind his sisters, moving with surprising silence for such a huge man. His hands clap down on his sisters’ shoulders, and he shouts wordlessly. They shriek deafeningly, jumping on the stools, and then turn and they both leap from their seats at once. They both cling to Adam, and he wraps an arm around both of them, spin them in circles, and then he sets them down and hugs each of them in turn.

They’re not identical twins, he told me, but they’re almost indistinguishable. Or they would be, if they weren’t dressed totally differently, with their hair done differently as well. One wears a skirt shorter than anything I’d ever feel comfortable wearing and a tight top, her hair twisted up in an elaborate knot, and the other is more modestly dressed in a pair of jeans and a tank top, her hair in a low, loose ponytail.

After he’s hugged them, Adam turns to his father, who’s stood up to wait. He and Adam hug. That’s just fucking weird. I mean, I’ve seen bro-hugs before—bump chests, hands clasped between them, smack each other’s back three or four times—but never an actual embrace like this between men. And then Adam is on to his mom, and this is hard for me to watch. He clearly adores his mom. He pauses, holds her by the arms, looks at her, and then he pulls her into a long, intimate hug.

Her hands curl up under his arms and hold onto his shoulders, and when he releases her; she sniffs and drags a finger under her eyes. “Tory…hi, baby. I didn’t know you were in town.”

Tory?

Adam glances back at me, gestures for me to come to him with a jerk of his head. “Mom, Dad, Lia, Lizzy…this is my girlfriend, Des.” He points to each family member in turn. “Des, this is my mom, Lani, my dad, Erik, and my baby sisters, Lia and Lizzy.” He glances at Lizzy, the sister in the miniskirt. “And Lizzy, would you like to explain to me exactly what the flying fuck you’re wearing?”

Lizzy narrows her eyes at him. “Not you too? God, would you guys give it a rest? It’s not that short.”

“That’s what I asked her this morning,” Adam’s dad says. “I was running late so I didn’t have time to argue with her about it.”

“Liz, that wouldn’t fit a Barbie doll,” Adam says.

“Don’t be an asshole, Tory. It’s not that short. Seriously. You should see what the other girls at school wear. This is modest.”

I tap Adam’s shoulder. “Um. Who is Tory?”

His entire family exchanges looks, and then they all burst out laughing. His mother is the first to answer. She does this by moving between his father and sisters to pull me into a hug. Which is awkward, because I’m not a hugger. So I tense, and wonder what I’m supposed to do with my hands, and do I put my face against her shoulder, or what? I don’t know. But she doesn’t seem to care; she just wraps her arms around me and holds on. She smells like cinnamon, and her hug is soft and never seems to end.


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