Made for You Page 18

I roll my eyes. “I’ve moved on since elementary school.”

“It happens.” He rocks a little. “I’m rereading the Andrew Lost series, actually. I dug them out after I saw you.”

I frown, before realizing that he’s watching me for a reaction. I don’t know if he’s joking or not. His expression hasn’t changed, but I’m not sure why he’d be serious about reading a book series for eight-year-olds.

“My brother likes them,” he says after a pause that’s almost too long. “I’ve read the first three to him so far.”

“Your brother?” I prompt in confusion. I know he didn’t have a brother when we were friends. I don’t think any of us knew or heard much about his family since then.

“Room 923.” He gestures to the corridor on the opposite side of the common area. “I try to come most every night when he’s in here. Aaron’s mom works nights so she can be with him days. He has a sitter who’s there when he sleeps. I try to go over to their house some, but when he’s in here, I am here every night I can be.”

“When does his mom sleep?”

“When Aaron naps, when I’m there, and she’s usually home to catch a few hours before he wakes up in the morning.” Nate shrugs like it’s not a big deal, but his lips press tightly together and his gaze drops. “I try to go more, but my mom bitches about the drive and nags about my grades. Nora, she’s Aaron’s mom, gives me gas money so my mom can’t bitch about that too.”

I stare at him, not knowing what to say. I remember his parents splitting up, but I had no idea his dad had another kid—or remarried. Whatever the case, Nate hasn’t mentioning his father helping out. I debate briefly whether or not to ask, before deciding that since he’s the one who brought it all up I might as well. We’ve gone from not talking at all to him sharing things that are extremely personal. I don’t know how to make sense of it, but I figure that continuing talking is the only thing that I can do.

“What about your dad?” I ask.

Nate meets my gaze, and I resist the urge to shiver at the fury in his expression. “Aaron has CF, cystic fibrosis. The sperm donor couldn’t handle Aaron being sick, so he walked.”

I shake my head because there’s nothing to say here that isn’t harsh. I remember liking Nate’s dad. He laughed and played with Nate like my parents never did with me. Mine were more of the “why don’t you go play quietly or read, dear?” sort. I liked reading; I still do. But I think I would’ve liked wrestling on the floor too.

It hits me as I’m staring at Nate that in my hallucination he thought about Nora and Aaron. He was concerned about worrying them. I gasp.

“Are you okay?” He leans forward but doesn’t touch me.

“Twinge,” I lie.

“Do you need the nurse?”

I shake my head. My hands clench the book, and I try to quell the insanity in my mind. Cautiously, I ask, “Have I met Aaron? Or Nora?”

Nate stares at me for a moment. “The memory thing, right? From your head injury?” He gives me such a sympathetic look that I wonder if that’s the answer. I knew it, but then I forgot. Memory issues are common with TBI. Relief washes over me.

“No, you haven’t met them,” he continues. “We . . . stopped talking a few years ago. Do you remember that?”

I nod. I must have just heard their names somewhere. It’s the only logical explanation. I guess if I’m going to have forgotten things, it’s best that it was gossip I forgot.

“What do you remember about . . . us?” he asks.

“I missed you,” I say. I thought I remembered everything up until the accident, but maybe I’m wrong. I look at him and continue, “I remember that you changed. We talked all the time, and then you were a jerk. Not all at once, but . . .”

“I’m sorry.” He stares at me, and I’m not sure if he’s the boy I used to know or the jackass I’ve seen around parties the last couple years.

I think back to the last night we spoke. “Then one night you were awful. The party out at Piper’s parents’ lake house? You knew everyone was watching us, and you acted like you didn’t even know me.”

He swallows and looks at me, not meeting my eyes, but gazing in the general direction of my chin. “I wish I could tell you that I’d already apologized for that and everything else before now, and you forgave me, but I’d be lying.”

I nod.

“I want you to forgive me, Eva.” He meets my eyes now. “I’ve wanted that for years, but . . . I know I’m only tolerated by your crowd these days. I couldn’t walk up to you.”

“I was the one who came to you that night,” I remind him.

“Yeah, and I was a mess then. I just wanted to be numb, and beer and girls seemed like a good idea.”

“Seemed?” I echo.

“I don’t drink anymore.” He looks straight at me. “Even so, what would they do if I walked up to you? Baucom, Piper, and the rest of them? Sober and at a party or at school?”

I’m not sure what to say. He is—like Amy Crowne—fine to be with in private or after a few drinks at a party, but he’s definitely not considered date material or even friend material. He hasn’t been since he stopped being a part of our crowd.

“Well, we’re talking now,” I finally say. “Are you going to ignore me later?”

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