Home > Crave (Crave #1)(8)

Crave (Crave #1)(8)
Author: Tracy Wolff

“The rest?”

“Yeah. There’s more.” She crosses to one of the closets and pulls open the doors. “I figured your wardrobe wasn’t exactly equipped for Alaska, so I supplemented a little.”

“A little is an understatement, don’t you think?”

Lined up inside the closet are several black skirts and pants, along with white and black blouses, a bunch of black or purple polo shirts, two black blazers, and two red and black plaid scarves. There are also a bunch of lined hoodies, a few thick sweaters, a heavy jacket, and two more pairs of snow pants—none of which is in hot pink, thankfully. On the floor are a few pairs of new shoes and snow boots, along with a large box of what looks like books and school supplies.

“There are socks and thermal underwear and some fleece shirts and pants in your dresser drawers. I figure moving here is hard enough. I didn’t want you to have to worry about anything extra.”

And just like that, she manages to knock down the first line of my defenses. Tears bloom in my eyes, and I look away, blinking quickly in an effort to hide what a disaster I am.

It obviously doesn’t work, because Macy makes a small exclamation of dismay. She’s across the room in the blink of an eye, pulling me into a coconut-scented hug that seems incongruous here at the center of Alaska. It’s also strangely comforting.

“It sucks, Grace. The whole thing just totally sucks, and I wish I could make it better. I wish I could just wave a wand and put everything back the way it used to be.”

I nod because there’s a lump in my throat. And because there’s nothing else to say. Except that I wish for that, too.

I wish that the last words my parents and I spoke weren’t hurled at each other in a fight that seems so stupid now.

I wish that my dad hadn’t lost control of the car two hours later and driven himself and my mother off a cliff, plunging hundreds of feet into the ocean.

Most of all, I wish that I could smell my mother’s perfume or hear the deep rumble of my father’s voice just one more time.

I let Macy hug me as long as I can stand it—which is only about five seconds or so—and then I pull away. I’ve never particularly liked being touched, and it’s only gotten worse since my parents died.

“Thanks for—” I gesture to the bed and closet. “All of this.”

“Of course. And I want you to know, if you ever need to talk or whatever, I’m here. I know it’s not the same, because my mom left; she didn’t die.” She swallows hard, takes a deep breath before continuing. “But I know what it’s like to feel alone. And I’m a good listener.”

It’s the first time she’s actually used the word “die.” The first time she’s actually acknowledged what happened to my parents by name. The fact that she has makes it so much easier to say, “Thank you,” and mean it, even as I remember that Jaxon didn’t shy away from it, either. He might have been a jackass all the way around, but he called my parents’ death what it was. And didn’t treat me like I was going to shatter under the weight of one harsh word.

Maybe that’s why I’m still thinking about him when I should be writing him off for the jerk he is.

She nods, watching me out of worried eyes that only make me feel worse.

“I should probably get unpacked.” I look down at my suitcases with distaste. It feels like I just packed them. The last thing I want to do is empty them right now. Not when my electric-pink bed is calling me like a beacon.

“I can totally help with that.” She points at a door across the room. “Why don’t you go take a shower and get into your pajamas? I’ll check on the soup my dad said he sent up. Then you can eat, take some Advil, and get some rest. Hopefully, when you wake up, you’ll be better acclimated to the altitude.”

“That sounds…” I really do feel crappy, and a shower sounds amazing. As does sleep, considering I’ve been so nervous about the move that I haven’t gotten much in the last week or so.

“Perfect, right?” She fills in the blank.

“It really does, yeah.”

“Good.” She walks to her closet and pulls out a couple extra towels. “If you want to hop in the shower, I’ll get you some warm soup and hopefully, in half an hour, this whole day will feel a lot better.”

“Thanks, Macy.” I turn to look at her. “I mean it.”

A grin splits her face and lights up her eyes. “You’re welcome.”

Fifteen minutes later, I’m out of the shower and dressed in my favorite pair of pajamas—a Harry Styles T-shirt from his first solo tour and a pair of blue fleece pants with white and yellow daisies all over them—only to find Macy dancing around the room to “Watermelon Sugar.”

Talk about kismet.

Macy oohs and aahs over the concert tee—as she should—but other than that, she pretty much leaves me alone. Except to make sure I drink an entire thirty-two-ounce bottle of water and take the Advil she left on my nightstand.

There’s a bowl of chicken noodle soup on my nightstand, too, but right now I don’t have the energy to eat. Instead, I climb into bed and pull the hot-pink covers over my head.

The last thing I think about before drifting off to sleep is that—despite everything—tonight is the first time I’ve taken a shower without struggling not to cry since my parents died.


No, I Really

Don’t Want to

Build a Snowman

I wake up slowly, head fuzzy and body as heavy as stone. It takes me a second to remember where I am—Alaska—and that the light snores that fill the room belong to Macy and not Heather, whose room I crashed in for the last three weeks.

I sit up, trying to ignore the unfamiliar howls and roars—and even the occasional animalistic scream—in the distance. It’s enough to freak anyone out, let alone a girl born and raised in the city, but I comfort myself by remembering there’s a giant castle wall between me and all the animals making those noises…

Still, if I’m being honest, it isn’t the utter foreignness of this place that has my brain racing overtime. Yes, being in Alaska is bizarre on what feels like every level. But once I banish thoughts of my old life, it isn’t Alaska that woke me up at—I glance at the clock—3:23 in the morning. And it’s not Alaska that’s keeping me awake.

It’s him.

Jaxon Vega.

I don’t know anything more about him than I did when he left me standing in the hallway, angry and confused and hurting more than I want to admit—except that he’s the most popular guy at Katmere Academy. And that he’s angsty, which…no kidding. I didn’t exactly need a crystal ball to guess that.

But seriously, nothing Macy told me matters, because I’ve decided I don’t want to know any more about him.

More, I don’t want to know him.

Yet when I close my eyes, I can still see him so perfectly. His clenched jaw. The thin scar that runs the length of his face. The black ice of his eyes that lets me see for a second—just a second—that he knows as much about pain as I do. Maybe more.

It’s that pain I think of most as I sit here in the dark. That pain that makes me worry for him when I shouldn’t give a damn one way or the other.

I wonder how he got that scar. However it happened, it had to have been awful. Terrifying. Traumatic. Devastating.

I figure that’s probably why he was so cold to me. Why he tried to get me to leave and, when I wouldn’t, ended up delivering that ridiculous and—I admit, mildly disconcerting—warning.

Macy said he was angsty…does that mean he treats everyone the way he treated me? And if so, why? Because he’s just a jerk? Or because he’s in so much pain that the only way he can handle it is to make everyone afraid of him so that he can keep them at a distance? Or do people see his scar and his scowl and decide to keep their distance all on their own?

It’s an awful thought but one I can totally relate to. Not the people being afraid of me part but definitely the people keeping their distance part. Except for Heather, most of my old friends drifted away after my parents died. Heather’s mom told me it was because my parents’ deaths reminded them of their own mortality, reminded them that their parents could die at any time. And so could they.

Logically, I knew she was right, that they were just trying to protect themselves the only way they knew how. But that didn’t make the distance any less painful. And it definitely didn’t make the loneliness any easier to bear.

Reaching for my phone, I shoot off a couple of quick texts to Heather—which I should have done as soon as I got here last night—telling her that I’m safe and explaining about the altitude sickness.

Then I lay back down, try to will myself to go back to sleep. But I’m wide-awake now, thoughts of Alaska and school and Jaxon blurring together in my head until all I want is for them to just stop.

But they don’t stop, and suddenly my heart is pounding, my skin prickling with awareness. I press a hand to my chest, take a couple of deep breaths, try to figure out what has me so alarmed that I can barely breathe.

And suddenly it’s right there. All the thoughts I’d shoved aside for the past forty-eight hours, just to get through leaving. Just to get here. My parents, leaving San Diego and my friends, that ridiculous airplane ride into Healy. Macy’s expectations for our friendship, the way Jaxon looked at me and then didn’t look at me, the things he said to me. The ridiculous amount of clothes I have to wear here to keep warm. The fact that I’m essentially trapped in this castle by the cold…

It all kind of melds together into one great big carousel of fear and regret, whirling through my brain. No thoughts are clear, no images stand out from any of the others—only an overwhelming feeling of impending doom.

The last time I freaked out like this, Heather’s mom told me that experiencing too powerful emotions is completely normal after a huge loss. The crushing weight on my chest, the swirling thoughts, the shaking hands, the feeling that the world is going to come crashing in on me—all completely normal. She’s a therapist, so she should know, but it doesn’t feel normal right now.

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