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Chapter 8:

It was hard to spend every moment waiting to wake up from a bad dream, but that was what I’d been doing for the past week. I felt like it wasn’t really my life I’d been living, I was bolder thanks to this. I had broken into a house, I had trusted someone enough to tell my story and now I was trusting Tanner again, not even bothering to ask him where he was taking me.

I wanted to know his story. I could feel that he had a story even though I knew almost nothing about him. The way he acted, the reserved looks people gave him, his words all told me he was an interesting character around here.

I looked up when the car came to a stop in front of a huge house. “Is this your house?” I asked not hiding the fact that I was impressed. I shouldn’t have been surprised though, who else could have paid someone to trick her parents?

“Yeah.” He said shrugging nonchalantly and stopped the engine. “All the lights are out, you can come.”

I followed him into the seemingly empty house, taking in the beautiful furniture as we passed the living room. “Where are your parents?” I whispered, thinking that they could be asleep.

“Not here.” Tanner replied loudly and stopped in front of a room. “This is my room.” He announced before he let me in.

I looked around quickly and the first thing I noticed was how manly his room was. The walls were dark navy and chestnut furniture added to the effect. I sat on the edge of his king sized bed and turned to him.

“Do you like something to drink?” He asked disappearing into his bathroom and I heard the water running.

“Nope.” I yelled and kept examining the stuff in his room.

Tanner emerged from the bathroom not long after and sat on his chair. He turned on his laptop, ignoring my presence.

“So, where are your parents?” I questioned pursing my lips in annoyance. He seemed to be just a brat, I didn’t have half of what he had but I wasn’t just turning into a rebellious child because of that.

“Out.” He kept scrolling down the page he was reading. “Interesting.” He muttered to himself , then stood up from the chair and plopped down next to me.

“I can see it in your eyes.” He said with a forced smile. “You think I have no right to complain. “

“I do.” I retorted telling him the truth. “You have a great house, a great car and your both parents are still with you. You shouldn’t be complaining.”

“I hate them.” Tanner said coldly, making me gape at him. “I can’t wait to leave for college. “

I gave him an incredulous look and allowed him to continue. “I started noticing something was wrong when I was in elementary school.” Tanner kept telling. “My parents never showed affection to each other, all my friends’ parents touched each other and occasionally kissed. My parents were like two strangers living in the same house. Then it got worse. Instead of getting a divorce, they decided to have an open marriage and nothing was the same after that.”

His voice sounded both angry and pained at the same time. “They forgot that they had a child and started going out every night with different people. They were never home, I was suddenly all alone while they enjoyed their newly established priviledge.”

“You started doing things to get their attention.” I commented, now understanding what it was all about.

“At first, yes.” Tanner nodded. “When they were yelling at me, at least they were aware of my existence. When they were telling me that they were disappointed in me, I thought they at least felt something towards me. So, I got into the wrong crowd. I had money more than they’d seen in their lives, so acceptance wasn’t an issue. I did drugs, got into fights, stole, whatever you name it.”

“Then your parents had enough.” I mumbled, 
remembering when he told me he was paying me because he’d heard his parents talking about shipping him off to a boarding school.

“After a while, I stopped caring about them but kept my lifestyle for fun. It was fun while it lasted, until three months ago. I had to cut contact with all those people and act like a reformed guy.”

“Why did you do it? I mean, you don’t have a reason to stay here.” I reasoned. “What difference would it make if you went to that boarding school?”

“I have everything I need here. I have money and nobody tells me what to do. I’m not gonna get locked up in a stupid school.” He crunched his nose. “All I need is to graduate and then I’m gonna leave without looking back.”

“They stole my childhood.” Tanner shook his head slowly. “If they did get a divorce, I could have gotten over it eventually. They made me question if I was a worthy son for years, they still f*ck around and talk to me only when I do something bad. I’m never forgiving them.”

 “I’m sorry.” I offered in a small voice, shifting uncomfortably. “I never knew.”

“Don’t be.” He shrugged. “That could have been worse.”

“Yeah.” I smiled. “Like you could totally wake up in a different reality.”

I thought about the Tanner I used to know. I didn’t know him that well then, but Cheryl wouldn’t shut up about him and she’d always mention how popular he was among the whole student body and how he had the perfect life with rich parents. I had no idea how his family was then, maybe they were a happy couple or maybe they were divorced. I just knew that in this life, both my and Tanner’s families were f*cked up.

“That’s why you’re different.” I concluded looking him in the eye. “The things in our life make us who we are. “

Sara did drugs and Cheryl was still probably a backstabber. Steve was most probably gay, so was Tanner. These were the same but now I wasn’t sure if Steve and Tanner would end up together, or it was Cher’s fault that we fell apart. What they lived through made them who they are and since Tanner and Steve were now from different social circles, maybe Steve would never like him. Since Cher was afraid of Tanner, she wouldn’t like him either. She had Steve now and maybe they were perfect for each other in this life.

I couldn’t guarantee that all events would turn up exactly the way they did. I had information on those people but some parts of them were different. 
“I was given a second chance.” It dawned on me suddenly. This was my chance to turn my crappy life into a better one. I may have lost my father but how could I know that he wasn’t going to leave in my old life?

I had to stop judging everyone and turn my life around. I had to use this chance. “I have to forgive and forget.” I mumbled.

“Now you sound like a real lunatic.” Tanner’s voice snapped me into reality. “What are you talking about?”

“This is my chance. A chance to have a normal life again.” I excitedly stated breathlessly. “I’m gonna stop dwelling on past and make my life better. I’m gonna make new friends, forgive old ones and try to be happier. I deserve it.”

“Good for you.” Tanner uninterestedly replied. “You can finally stop suggesting that I’m secretly gay.”

I ignored his sarcastic remark, thinking of my two best friends Cheryl and Hannah. “Where’s Hannah?” I shrieked, realizing that I hadn’t seen her yet around.

“Who?” Tanner asked . “I don’t know anyone named Hannah. There was a nerd back in freshmen year but she moved away years ago. I don’t think you were ever friends with her.”

My shoulders slumped in defeat. I was going to miss Hannah but I still had someone to make things right. I needed to talk to Cheryl, as soon as possible.

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Next in Love Kills: Jessi tries to find out what happened between she and Cheryl to end their friendship while Tanner wants Jess to meet his parents.

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