Delaney Hawkins turned her head from where she was walking out of the high school. It was the end of her freshman year and she just wanted to get the hell off the grounds.
It was bad enough being from a small town in Wisconsin where everyone knew her mother was the middle school art teacher and had Mrs. Hawkins at some point. Her mother was also the head of the PTA and there seemed to be nowhere she could run from being Terri Hawkins’s daughter.
Her father owned and operated his own garage and many in this area frequented that too rather than driving further out of town to a dealership.
Small towns and everyone knew your name. For a kid trying to blend in, it made an already awkward teenage life more miserable.
Now add to the mix that her brother was arrested for the rape of a minor, and yeah, there was nowhere to hide.
“I’m busy, David, what do you want?”
“Just wanted to talk to you,” David said.
Which was a complete lie. David was two years older than her. He played football and thought he should have been the captain, but he sucked. He didn’t even start, which was funny since the team barely had enough players on the roster.
But David had a big mouth and ran it more than he revved the engine of his beat-up old Camaro that he thought would land him some chicks. Both gave him a reputation of not only the girls thinking he was a dick, but the guys too.
“You never just want to talk. You want to lecture,” she said, moving faster. “Or rather make a point. Maybe a statement. You think you’re funny and smart, but I don’t. I’m late now.”
David ran up beside her. “How is your brother doing? It’s got to be hard living under his shadow like that. I thought I’d try to be a friend to you.”
She turned and looked at the smirk on David’s face. “I don’t need friends like you.”
“Because you all think he is so innocent,” David said with a snarl.
No, she didn’t think her brother was innocent at all. Her mother was investing all her time and energy into making sure Kyle didn’t spend any time in jail. Her father barely looked at her brother and was not willing to put a cent in for the lawyers.
Her mother was working an extra job and Delaney was the one that was being left behind. She was used to it for most of her life, but this was different. It was worse in so many ways.
Kyle had always been the kid in the family that got all the attention. A mama’s boy that could do no wrong and he knew it and played off of their mother’s emotions.
The fact her mother was trying to say he had some learning disability or mental illness when everyone knew that wasn’t the case was an embarrassment and a lesson in ignorance that everyone talked about behind her mother’s back.
Kyle knew exactly what he was doing. He didn’t think he’d get caught.
Or he was stupid and thought saying, “Raine came onto me. She was always sitting on my lap and flirting with me,” was his defense.
Raine was twelve. Kyle was nineteen. Yeah, stupid to be alone with her, let alone be sending sexy and flirty text messages back and forth. Messages Delaney had seen with her own eyes before he deleted them on his phone.
He could deny it all he wanted, but she knew what she saw and read, but it’d be her word against his and she wanted to be left alone.
“My brother’s life isn’t mine,” she said to David. She’d been saying that for months now. In her mind, this trial was going to go on forever with the way her mother was stalling the lawyers.
“He’s not going to get away with it,” David said.
She’d been walking faster with David on her heels, but she turned and stood her ground. “Listen. I don’t give you shit that your mother is sleeping with Mr. Henderson behind your father’s back so don’t give me shit over the fact that my brother did something bad that has nothing to do with me.”
David stopped in his tracks. “What?”
“You heard me. Maybe you should stop and think that every family has some skeletons in their closet that people are talking about in this town but aren’t mean enough to say it to the kids’ faces.”
“Yet you just did,” David said. “And you’re lying.”
“Guess you know what it’s like to be blamed or pulled into someone else’s actions now, don’t you?”
She turned and continued to walk away. She knew she shouldn’t have said that. It was something her mother had been bitching about. That everyone was talking about their family when teachers were having affairs right under spouses’ noses.
Yeah, nothing was ever quiet in this small town and that was why she wanted out and wanted it now.
But something told her she wasn’t going to get that wish any time soon, not until she could stand on her own two feet.