33. Discovery

“You could stay at my house on Saturday,” Evan offered when I told
him that Sara’s wasn’t an option. The three of us sat on the bleachers
after I watched Weslyn win their game.
“That could work,” Sara agreed with a smirk. I gawked back at her, unable
to believe she was agreeing with him. “My parents won’t say that
you weren’t with me. Your aunt and uncle wil never know. Em, you
won’t have to go home until Sunday morning.”
“My parents won’t be home, so they won’t say anything,”
Evan added. This revelation didn’t make my decision easier, it actualy
made it harder.
I considered my options and reluctantly agreed to spend Saturday
night at Evan’s.
“You are in so much trouble,” Sara taunted when we drove to my
house to grab my clothes for the weekend.

“Shut up, Sara,” I shot back. “You’re the one who thought it was such a
great idea.”
“You have to tel me every single detail.”
“Stop it. Nothing’s going to happen,” I declared, trying to convince
myself more than Sara.
Sara accompanied me into my house to help carry my bag. I thought it
was best not to provoke the situation by using the crutches, so I
limped in, trying to creep unnoticed through the kitchen while the
family ate in the dining room.
Carol greeted us with a disturbing smile in the kitchen.
“Hi Sara,” she beamed. It was nauseating to witness. “Emma, the
nurse caled. She wants to make sure you rest your leg this weekend
and continue icing it. So, lie low, okay?” Her false concern made me
“Okay,” I said, unable to meet her eyes, continuing to inch toward my
“Chores on Sunday morning, alright?” she sang in a sickeningly sweet
voice. I nodded.
I didn’t know who she was trying to fool. We knew the monster that
dweled under her façade.
“Good luck with the SAT’s.”
“Thank you,” Sara replied politely. I turned to escape the bizarre exchange
and headed to my room.

We packed silently, the tension thick, knowing Carol was within
earshot. I’m sure she was dying to overhear me say something about
her to Sara, but there was no way I was going to give her ammunition
for her next ambush. I threw clothes on my bed, and Sara stuffed them
into the duffle bag.
I breathed easier when I was back in Sara’s car.
“She is so strange.”
“I don’t think that’s the right word for her,” I grumbled.
“Just you and me tonight?” Sara confirmed. I realized she and I hadn’t
had much time alone since Evan’s return.
“Sounds perfect.”
Sara and I watched a movie and ate pizza. I let her paint my toes a horrible
shade of purple that resembled the color of my knee. We were in
bed early for a Friday night, in preparation for the SAT’s the next
“Don’t even ask,” I scowled at Evan, entering the hals after sitting for
hours reading questions, writing essays, and filing in what seemed like
a milion little circles. My mind raced through question after question,
second guessing and scrutinizing my responses. My head was spinning,
and my stomach was upside down, knowing my future now rest
in another’s hands.
“Okay, I won’t ask you how you think you did,” Evan promised. “Let’s
get something to eat. Everyone’s going to Frank’s if you want to go.”

“That’s fine,” I agreed.
“How’d you do?” Jil asked with way more energy than anyone should
have after spending hours on tests that would decide her future. She
slid in at the booth across from us, eagerly awaiting my answer.
I dropped my head in my arms and groaned.
“She doesn’t want to talk about it,” Evan explained.
“Come on, Emma,” Jil exclaimed, “you of al people shouldn’t be worried
about how you did.”
“It al ran together,” I complained, my voice muffled since I refused to
lift my head. “I don’t remember any of it. I could have answered anything,
and I would have no recolection of whether it was correct or not.
I think I’m going to throw up.”
“Relax,” Kyle urged. I didn’t realize he was sitting next to Jil.
“It’s over now, so it doesn’t matter.”
“Easy for you to say,” I mumbled, peering up at him from my defeated
position, “you’ve already been accepted to colege.” Evan flashed his
amused grin, which didn’t help my anxiety at al. Knowing my angst
was entertaining only made it that much worse.
“Please don’t tel me you’re going to be in a bad mood al day?” Evan
pleaded as I hobbled on the crutches to his car.
“I’l get over it,” I promised with a heavy sigh. “What are we doing

“Not much. You need to stay off your leg. I thought we’d play video
games or something so you can keep your leg up.”
“Is that going to drive you crazy?” I asked, concerned that my immobility
was going to bore him.
“No,” he replied with a grin. “I don’t always have to be doing
something. I can just hang out.”
And that’s what we did for the rest of the afternoon – hung out on the
couch above the garage. I watched Evan play the video games more
than I participated. I was too frustrated with al of the buttons and
knobs, unable to catch on to what I had to press or turn and when. I
opted to prop my leg on his lap, observing his gaming skils while I iced
it. It could have been worse.
“Want to watch a movie?” Evan offered while we sat in the kitchen,
eating one of his creations for dinner.
“You know I’l fal asleep.”
“I don’t mind,” he smiled.
“Where do you watch movies?” I inquired, realizing the only televisions
I’d seen were in the barn and in his room.
“My room.”
A sudden streak of panic made me more alert than I’d been al day. I
tried to appear unaffected by his response, but I was hyperventilating
on the inside.
“Do you play the piano?” I asked, trying to think of something to do
besides go to his room.

“A little,” he admitted slowly, not expecting the question.
“Wil you play for me?”
Evan’s cheeks flushed, making me smile. It was something I didn’t see
very often.
“Now you have to,” I taunted after seeing how uncomfortable my request
made him.
“I’l try,” he said with a deep breath.
After we - or I should say, Evan, since he wouldn’t let me help
- cleaned up, I folowed him to the piano. Evan sat on the bench and I
scooted in next to him. He looked at me hesitantly and poised himself
to play. I was truly excited to witness another one of his talents. Before
he pressed the keys under his fingers, he looked at me again and shook
his head.
“No, sorry - can’t do it.”
“What?!” I exclaimed disapprovingly. “You have to.”
“No.” He shook his head again, “I can’t. Let’s go listen to people who
actualy know what they’re doing.”
Without giving me a second to resist, Evan scooped me up in his arms
and headed for the stairs.
“Evan, you realy don’t have to carry me.” Being held sent a rush of color
to my cheeks. And knowing that he was carrying me to his bedroom
didn’t help cool them.

“It’l take too long for you to hop up the stairs,” he countered. He
nudged the door open with his shoulder and gently laid me on the bed.
I quickly pushed myself up to sit, my pulse beating a thousand miles a
minute. Evan selected a song with a catchy beat. A distinct voice,
singing about being alone with a girl. He turned down the volume so
that we could talk.
“I have to ask you something,” Evan confessed nervously, sitting next
to me on the bed, “and I know you’re not going to like talking about
I remained stil, already not liking it.
“When Sara said that ‘she’s paying attention again,’ was she right?”
After a moment of silence, he added, “And please don’t lie.”
I looked from his desperate eyes to my lap, where I dug my fingernails
into my thumb.
“I don’t know,” I whispered. “I don’t understand her enough to even
begin to know what provokes her. But I’m not worried, and I don’t
want you and Sara to be either.”
I met his eyes and pressed my lips into the slightest smile, trying to
comfort him. It didn’t relieve his troubled expression.
“I was serious about leaving with you.”
I smiled wider.
“You know that, right?” he confirmed again, more adamantly.
“Just tel me, and we’l leave.”

“It’s not going to come to that,” I assured him, stil smiling at his commitment
to rescuing me. “I can get through this, as long as you promise
not to leave again.”
“I promise,” he vowed and leaned in to kiss me.
I surprised him when I immediately asked a question after his lips
separated from mine, not giving us the option to get carried away. He
asked me to repeat it, obviously not prepared to talk. I was determined
not to give in to the craving. I was going to be in control… or asleep.
“Emma,” Evan whispered in my ear. My cheeks tightened as I smiled
at the tickling of his fingers along my neck. “You can stay in here if you
want, or you can sleep in the guestroom.”
My eyes shot open. Evan was looking down at me as I lay on his chest
with my arm casualy draped across him. I sat up and looked around
the dark room. The only source of light was from the television airing a
late night talk show.
“Um,” I responded, shaking off the haze of sleep, “the guestroom is
“I’l get your bag and crutches,” he offered.
“I don’t need the crutches. I think I can put some weight on it.”
He examined me skepticaly.
“Honestly, I think it’s feeling better.”
Evan disappeared down the stairs, after pointing out a door down the
long corridor that led to the guestroom. In his absence, I limped to the

door, slowly putting more weight on my injured leg. It was stil sore but
definitely better.
I opened the door to reveal a delicately decorated room adorned with
several paintings of pink, yelow and blue flowers. I recognized Vivian’s
influence in the white duvet with pink roses embroidered around the
edges. The cream colored wals brightened the space, in complete contrast
to Evan’s dark room.
“This okay?” Evan confirmed from behind me.
“Yeah,” I replied, limping over to sit on the edge of the bed. Evan set
my bag on the floor and hesitated.
“Um, good night.” I wasn’t sure what I should have said, but I don’t
think that was what he was expecting.
“Oh, yeah. Good night.” He gave me a quick peck on the lips and
walked out the door.
I colapsed onto my back with my arms spread beside me, releasing an
aching sigh. I did the right thing, right? I should be sleeping in here,
not in his room. After prepping for bed in the private bathroom, I
slipped under the world’s softest sheets and shut off the lamp on the
white pedestal table.
Eyes, please close.
Wiling myself to sleep was not working. I stared into the dark, fighting
the desire to go to him. The beating in my chest was loud and steady –
I could feel it in my throat. I needed to fal asleep - or at least turn over
so I wasn’t staring at the door any longer.

“Em? You awake?” Evan whispered. I couldn’t help but smile when I
turned over to find his head peering through the crack of the door.
He smiled back. “Knowing you were right down the hal was way too
hard. I couldn’t do it,” Evan declared, sliding under the covers next to
me. “Hi.”
“Hi.” I smiled wider.
“How’s your knee?” he asked with his head on the pilow next to mine.
“You did not come in here to ask me about my knee,” I accused.
He shook his head with a smirk and puled me toward him. Although
his lips were familiar to me, I stil lost my breath when we connected. I
became entranced by their slow soft passes over mine. My mouth parted
to his advances with a soft breath. His hands slipped under my
tank top, along my back. He stirred a warm tingling within me when
he delicately traced his fingers along my stomach. I released a quick
breath and puled him closer - then winced as my knee hit his.
“Are you okay?” he questioned, puling away – too far away.
“I’m okay,” I whispered. He didn’t move. “I promise - I’m fine.”
Reluctantly, Evan moved closer until we were touching again. I kept
my right leg on the bed behind my left, to protect us from another
painful interruption. I was easily lost in his warmth again. I slid my
hands under his shirt, running my fingers along the smooth curves of
his chest and down to his waist. He inhaled quickly. He reached
around and puled his shirt over his head. My heart stopped. I breathlessly
observed the silhouette of his defined, lean muscles in the dark
and bit my lip. He leaned in to drag his parted lips along my neck.

When I thought we’d stop, we didn’t. There wasn’t a warning in my
head urging me to slow down. Al I could hear was our quick breaths.
Al I could feel was his touch on my heated skin. My head spun, and my
pulse quickened; eventualy releasing a moan I didn’t know I had in my
depths. Our discovery of each other left my chest rising with long,
drawn breaths. There wasn’t a quick retreat but a slow and gradual
withdrawal as his arms settled around my waist, and I nuzzled into his
neck, brushing it softly with my lips.
“How’s your knee?” he whispered, kissing the top of my head. I’d completely
forgotten about my knee, but now I recognized the throbbing
that kept pace with my heart.
“I’l be okay,” I assured him.
“I’m going to get you some ice,” he insisted, moving away from me. I
instantly missed the warmth of his body, watching him slide his shirt
over his head to conceal his defined lines before stepping out the door.
I lay on my back, awaiting his return. My eyes were slowly blinking
closed when I heard the distinct rattling of ice. Evan slid his pilow under
my knee before setting the bag of ice on it.
“I’m going to my room, so I don’t bang your knee while you’re sleeping,”
he stated, easing the down comforter over me before kissing my
forehead. “Good night.”
“Good night,” I murmured with a delicate grin, already drifting to
sleep. I knew in that moment, I would never love anyone in my life the
way I loved Evan Mathews.
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