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Somebody Else's Sky (Something in the Way #2)(16)

By:Jessica Hawkins

"Where?" I asked. I tried to gauge his mood, unsure if I should tell him that what Tiffany had said wasn't true. He didn't seem bothered by it, though.

"Bathroom." He laced his fingers with mine as we cut through the party, his thumb rubbing the stone of my ring.

"Stop touching it."

He glanced over his shoulder at me. "You're weirdly superstitious about that thing. I've tried to tell you, it only detects your mood-it can't ruin it."

It did, though. I wasn't sure how to explain that to him. I hated the idea of anyone else touching Manning's ring.

Corbin released my hand when we reached the bathroom. "She's sick," he said to the people waiting in line, pushing me inside, not that anybody would stand up to him.

He locked the door, and I washed my hands. As I dried them, I looked from the ring to my face in the mirror. Did Manning still think of me in there? How did I look to him? Like I had back then, a young girl who'd made all the wrong choices? I'd been too timid when I should've been bold, too impulsive when I should've held back.

"What's wrong?" Corbin asked.

What was wrong? My chest throbbed all the time, a gaping wound waiting to be filled or bandaged or prodded. Manning was alone and possibly hurt and nobody knew when he'd be back. As if I could tell Corbin any of that. What was wrong was that I was in love with someone who might never be mine. Someone I hadn't seen in a year and whom I saw everywhere. I did double takes at the mall, in the supermarket-even, sometimes, at school. I'd felt his presence behind me as I'd ridden a horse by myself for the first time.

I worried I'd forget his face. I didn't know anymore the exact spot I came up to on his body because I'd grown. I'd changed on the outside and on the inside, too. Seventeen was worlds away from sixteen. Did he know that? Could he tell from my letters? Did he know that no matter how much I changed, where he was concerned, I was the same girl who'd looked up at him on a wall and fallen right in love?

Corbin's eyebrows knit together. "Here," he said when I didn't answer. He held out his beer. "Chug this."

I took the drink. I took it to fill a black hole that couldn't be filled. No matter what I put in there, it eventually seeped out. I took it to see what would happen. My friends were so obsessed with getting drunk. My parents talked about wine varietals and regions all the time. Val had a strange fascination with rosé. I downed the whole thing in one go.

"Damn," Corbin said, grinning. "I leave you for a couple months, and you turn into a verified alky."

I shook my head. "No. Not really."

He took the cup from me, wet the hand towel, and pressed it to my belly. With a squeeze, he soaked my top, sending a rivulet down my tummy. "Lift your arms," he said.


"You want to go home smelling like a brewery? Your dad'll kill you."

True. Vickie, Mona, and I were supposed to be having a sleepover. I raised my hands and he slipped off my sweater. He ran the stain under the faucet, averting his eyes until he finally snuck a glance at my bra.

I covered myself. "Don't look."

He smiled crookedly but returned to his task. "Why not?"


"Relax. I've seen you in a bathing suit lots of times."

I frowned. "I wouldn't say lots of times. Maybe twice."

"Five times." He took my top out and laid it on the counter to dab it with the towel. "There's the one-piece you wore on the beach last summer and then again for boogie boarding the week of your birthday. Then you have the hot pink bikini with the rhinestones that you bought for that end-of-the-year pool party. You also have a blue Roxy one I've seen at the beach and when you came to watch me surf Thalia."


I studied his profile as he focused on drying the stain. His golden hair was so thick, it didn't even really fall when he bent his head. Somehow over the past year, he'd become my best friend. Val supported me just by being herself, by testing my boundaries, and making me laugh, but Corbin and I had a bond. He held up my top. "It's damp, but it's clean. Arms back up."

It took me a second to register. The beer was already starting to hit me. I lowered my hands and stood there. Letting him see me in my bra didn't feel as uncomfortable as I might've thought. What if? What if my life was easy and Corbin was 'the one'? What if Manning wasn't in the picture? Would I let Corbin's hands warm and comfort me?

His eyes roamed another second, then he stepped closer. "You good?"

"I'm great," I said. "Loose or something."