Edge of Chaos(Love on the Edge #1)(4)

By: Molly E. Lee

I held my breath as I heard the lock click and then watched the door slowly open. His uncle stood with his arms crossed in a pair of blue flannel pajamas and his aunt sat on the stairs behind him, her hair disheveled and her eyes red. Normally this is where I’d make small talk, but the lump in my throat didn’t allow for it.

“Uncle Kyle?” I’d never heard Justin’s voice so shattered, so vulnerable.

His uncle shook his head. “We told you, Justin. You had one last chance. You break our rules one more time and you’re done. And you had one thing to do tonight. One. To stay here and prove to us that you were capable of being part of this family.”

Justin took a step back, his chest rising and falling rapidly.

The look in his eyes, complete and utter hurt, forced me into action. “Mr. Hobbs, it was my fault. I called him in a panic tonight. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know—”

“He did,” his uncle cut me off, his tone sharp. “He’s known for months now that we weren’t going to stand for this much longer.”

I swallowed hard. I knew Justin had stayed with his friends on occasion for the entire weekend without checking in, even got caught drinking a few times, but what teenager hadn’t? I never thought they would kick him out over it. I looked down, surveying the boxes. Some of them weren’t even taped up. His clothes were wadded and tossed in there like they’d been packed in a hurry. “It was my fault,” I said again.

His aunt sighed from the stairs but remained silent.

“No, Blake. It wasn’t. Justin knew the consequences of his actions tonight. He has disrespected us for the last time.” He fixed his gaze on Justin. “You hear me, boy? You’ve been so ungrateful after everything we’ve done for you, and I’ve had it. Take your stuff and get out of here.”

Justin’s mouth opened and closed a few times before he managed to get any words out. “Where am I supposed to go?”

My chest tightened. They were the only family he had left.

“Why don’t you go to one of those deadbeat friends of yours? The ones who are so much more important to you than us.” His uncle shut the door.

The sound the lock made could’ve had a microphone next to it. The click was so final.

Justin turned and sank to the porch, his head in his hands. I sat next to him, squeezed between his tall, lanky frame and a stack of boxes. After several agonizingly long minutes with nothing but our breath coming out in cold huffs, he looked at me.

Lost and broken. That was the only way I could describe his eyes.

“I’ll make my parents let you stay with us. This was all my fault,” I’d said and placed my hand on his back.

He’d shook his head, the weight on his shoulders sinking them lower around his frame. “No. I’ll figure it out on my own.”

Justin’s fist came down on the kitchen counter again, the sound snapping me to the present.

“How selfish can you be, Blake?” He glared at me. The look was so different from the broken eyes I’d seen that day five years ago. And though my heart shattered all over again for the boy who had lost everyone in his life, my anger over the word selfish burned my sympathy to ash.

Instinctively my mind conjured up scenarios in which I too had sacrificed things for him over the years. Like the time I’d used the money I’d saved for a down payment on a newer car to bail him out of jail because he’d neglected to pay three speeding tickets. How I never forgot his birthday and had to continuously remind him of mine. Or the fact that for years I had tried my hardest to patch things between him and his family, and when that didn’t work, I’d done everything in my power to make him happy every day since.

“If you feel that way about me, maybe we really shouldn’t be together,” I said, my voice cracking.

Justin’s eyes went from slits to as wide as saucers. He opened his mouth but shut it quickly. He looked me up and down. There he was, the broken boy. And again, I was the cause for his pain. Guilt clenched my stomach, but the battle between us seemed never ending.

“You want to break up?” he asked, his voice softer.

“I want us to make a new life here.” I sighed. A life without the constant, exhausting fighting and making up we did.

“You want to leave me over this?” Justin was back to practically growling. “You can’t leave me. You’re all I’ve got. I can’t live without you.”

“You’re not even willing to move two hours away for me. You obviously could live without me, Justin.” I pinched the bridge of my nose to stop the tears. I’d been contemplating this for a while now. We’d been clashing more and more, the once easy camaraderie we had when we were kids faded with each passing day.