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Somebody Else's Sky (Something in the Way #2)(14)

By:Jessica Hawkins

You did good.

It was the same thing Manning had said to me before they'd taken him away.

Since then, I'd been volunteering at an animal hospital a couple times a month.

"I'm going to look for some chow while you two 'catch up,'" Val said, air quotes and all.

She left us alone. Corbin opened one arm to me, and I hugged his middle as he moved us away from the keg. "I don't want you to go," I said, looking up at him.

"I really thought about staying," he said. "But it's where I want to be."

Corbin was headed for NYU in three days, but he and I were as close as ever. He'd been good to me the past year. According to the whole school, Corbin and I had been dating since camp. It wasn't true, but Corbin had been too focused on baseball, surfing, and NYU to date, and having Corbin as a rumored boyfriend was better than having guys ask me to school dances or for Friday night pizza or, God forbid, to the Fun Zone. I didn't date. Had no desire to. Had no room in my mind for boys when there was only one Manning.

Corbin rubbed the fuzzy back of my thin sweater. "You look good, Lake," he said. "Real good. You're a knockout."

According to my mom, my body had been changing all year, but I hadn't noticed until recently. Summer had been good to me. I'd finally grown into my limbs, clocking in at five-foot-eight, almost two inches taller than my mom and sister. I'd lost ten pounds in the weeks after Manning had gone away and had started running soon after. My bras got smaller around the back and bigger in the cups. I had real breasts now, not as big as my mom's and sister's, which was disappointing, but I had them. Men had stopped looking around me to see Tiffany and my mom. That kind of attention didn't seem worth all the fuss Tiffany made over it, but I figured I'd understand better once Manning was the one looking.

"Are you nervous for college?" I asked.


We stood a little too close to the boom box, and Corbin raised his voice to speak over Adam Duritz crooning "Round Here."

"What about you?" he asked. "You're a senior now. Lots of responsibility." Corbin tapped his Solo cup with mine. "How's it feel?"


"Is that Corbin I hear?" Tiffany called from the next room.

Corbin and I exchanged a look. He put an arm around me and led me into the kitchen where Tiffany held court from a granite throne.

"I haven't seen a Swenson all summer," she said.

"We were gone most of it."

"Well, work keeps me busy anyway," she said gravely.

"Still at Nordstrom?"

"And doing some modeling. Between that and driving all day to see Manning twice a month, I hardly have time for anything else."

I looked into my cup. What I knew about her visits came from her conversations with other people. I didn't believe most of it. Supposedly, he'd wanted conjugal visits but wasn't allowed them. He held her hand while they talked. He shared all kinds of things about his past. I knew my sister. She'd say they'd had sex right there on the visitation table if she thought someone would believe it. Anything to shock people. 

"Right." Corbin nodded, glancing around. Everybody in school knew about Manning thanks to Tiffany's big mouth, but Corbin was one of the only people who'd actually spoken to him.

I could ask for details now. Sometimes when I tried to get information, Tiffany shut down, but with other people around, she had a reason to blab.

Corbin beat me to it. "So he's still in the slammer then?"

Tiffany shifted. "Ow." She pulled up the outside of her thigh. Where her shorts stopped, her skin was red from the counter. "I've been up here too long. Help me down?"

Corbin knew better than to argue. He held her hand as she hopped off, her wedges thumping on the floor. She brushed off her hands and said, "He was supposed to get out for good behavior this month."

Was? Visions of Manning packing up his things, filling out paperwork, making living arrangements, calling me on the phone-it all disintegrated. "He's not anymore?"

"Her boyfriend's straight thug," someone said from behind us. "She told us all about him."

I shot a glare over my shoulder at the gangly kid from Tiffany's class who looked as though he'd spent the summer playing Nintendo in a basement.

"What happened?" Corbin asked. Even he perked up, leaning close, and in moments like these, I understood exactly why Tiffany continued to see Manning. He made for a good story.

"I don't know if I should say." Tiffany glanced at me from under her lashes and away. "It's upsetting."