A Different Blue Page 57

“Why do you do that?” Wilson bit out eventually. I knew he'd been working up a good mad.

“Do what?”

“Assume the worst. Put words in my mouth, call yourself names, all of it. Why?”

I thought for a minute, wondering how I could possibly make someone like Wilson understand how if felt to be a “girl like me.”

“The first time I had sex I was fourteen, Wilson. I didn't necessarily want it, but there you go. He was an older boy, and I liked his attention. He was nineteen, and I was easy pickings.” I shrugged. “I've had sex many times since then. Some people might say that makes me a slut, and the fact that I make no apologies for it might qualify me as a bitch. Calling myself a mean skank is mild, if you look at it that way. I'm not proud of it – and I'm trying to change it – but it's the truth, and I'm not really interested in making excuses for myself.”

Wilson had stopped walking and was staring at me. “Fourteen?! That's not sex. It's statutory rape, Blue.”

“Yeah, Wilson. In many ways, it was.”

“Bugger!” Wilson whispered, incredulous. “I don't bloody believe this!” Then he yelled, “Bugger!” again, this time so loudly that some people crossing the street stopped and stared. A woman was driving by in her car with her window down as he yelled, and she frowned at us. The poor woman thought Wilson was yelling at her.

“Let me guess, nothing happened to him? Right?” Wilson turned on me as if it were me he was angry with. I knew it wasn't. In fact, Wilson's anger was incredibly validating. I found that telling him did not upset me and, for the first time, remembering didn't make my insides quake.

“What do you mean? Of course not. I told Cheryl, she made sure I was on the pill, and I . . . got over it.”

“Aaargh!” Wilson yelled again, kicking at a rock and sending it flying. He mumbled and swore and seemed incapable of rational speech, so I walked along beside him, waiting him out. After a couple of blocks, he reached out and took my hand in his. I had never held a boy's hand while walking beside him. Wilson's hand was much bigger than mine, and it engulfed mine, making me feel delicate and cherished. It was incredibly . . . sexy. If I hadn't been hugely pregnant, if I hadn't just confessed my ugly past, I might have made a move on Wilson right then. I might have taken his wonderful face in my hands and kissed him until we were both wrapped around each other in the middle of the sidewalk.

I laughed silently at myself and pushed the thought away. I was pretty sure Wilson would run screaming for the hills if I ever made a move on him. That wasn't the nature of our relationship. It definitely wasn't the nature of his feelings for me. Plus, with my belly sticking out the way it did, getting close might be impossible. We walked until the sunset faded and dusk dimmed our view. The streetlights began to flicker on as we neared Pemberley.

“Make a wish!” I cried, pulling on Wilson's hand. “Quick! Before all the lights come on!” In the Vegas area, the night sky always had an orange cast. Neon and night life combined to make star-gazing almost impossible. So I had created my own variation of wishing on stars. I wished on streetlights instead.

I squeezed my eyes shut and clung to Wilson's hand, encouraging him to do the same. I mentally ran through a litany of wishes, some of them the same wishes I always made – riches, fame, never having to shave my legs again – but there were new ones, too. I snapped my eyes open to see if I'd gotten them in before the last streetlight flickered on. The last one buzzed and glimmered as I watched.

“Boo–yah!” I hip bumped Wilson. “Those wishes are definitely coming true.”

“I can't keep up, Blue.” Wilson said softly. “I'm always reeling with you. Just when I think I know all there is to know, you reveal something that absolutely guts me. I don't know how you've survived, Echohawk. I really don't. The fact that you're still making jokes and wishing on streetlights is a bit of a miracle.” Wilson reached out as if to touch my face, but let his hand fall at the last second. “Remember that time in class when I asked you why you were so angry?”

I remembered. I'd been such a brat. I nodded.

“I thought I had you all figured out, thought you needed to be brought down a peg. And then I found out why you were having such a struggle with writing your personal history. I felt like a complete tosser.”

I laughed and did a fist pump with my free hand. “That was the goal, Wilson. Make the teacher feel sorry for you. It really helps the grade.”

Wilson just gazed down at me, and I could tell he wasn't buying it. He started climbing the steps to the house, letting go of my hand as he felt for his keys.

“For the record, Blue, I don't think you're a mean skank,” Wilson said soberly, and I almost laughed at the way those words sounded coming out of his mouth. “I'll admit, when you walked into my class that first day, I thought that's exactly what you were. But you surprised me. There's a whole lot more to you than meets the eye.”

“There's a whole lot more to most people than meets the eye, Wilson. Unfortunately, a lot of times it isn't good stuff. It's scary stuff, painful stuff. By now, you know so much scary, painful stuff about me, it's a wonder you're still around. You had me pegged pretty well right from the start, I'd say. You're wrong about one thing, though. Girls like me notice guys like you. We just don't think we deserve them.”

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