Finding Perseverance(13)By: T. E. Black
Mark Roche is the type of man who will fight tooth and nail for every last bit of dignity he has left. It’s one thing for him and Lauren to be getting a divorce, but if a rumor starts going around about his soon-to-be ex-wife sleeping with a fighter, shit will hit the fan.
“Rook! He’s going to know! What the hell am I going to tell him?” she worries as she steps into the shorts she was wearing yesterday.
My phone rings again, and I see Luke’s name flashing across the screen as I grab it from the charger. Now, not only do I have to help Lauren come up with an alibi, I need one of my own. I toss my phone back down and grab her lightly by each shoulder. She freezes under my touch, her pleading eyes asking for help.
“Calm down. It’s all right. It’s already nine o’clock, if he realized you didn’t come home last night, five minutes to compose yourself isn’t going to make a difference.” I press down on her shoulders until she’s sitting on my bed, and then I crouch in front of her. Her breathing is ragged and her entire body is shaking. I run my palms over her thighs, urging her to look at me.
“Deep breath,” I soothe. As her breathing begins to calm, I continue, “Tell Mark you were at a friend’s house, okay? Don’t go into details as to who—it isn’t important. I know how you feel about lying, so let’s not make it worse by making up some elaborate story.”
“What if he doesn’t believe me? I have to stay with him until we tell him we’re together. He’ll take everything from me. I don’t have a dime, Rook. Should we tell him today? Get it over with?” she carries on.
“First off, Sacramento’s a huge city. There are thousands of people here. You can have a friend he doesn’t know about. That’s not unrealistic. You’ve been separated for three months. There are parts of your life he wouldn’t know about. Secondly, I think we should wait until after Boston. We’ll tell him after my fight. I have family there, and if we need to get away for a few days, we’ll have a place to go.”
“Okay,” she sniffles.
I stand, place a kiss on her forehead, and take her hand. “It’ll be okay. Now, let’s get you home.”
Rook had gotten suspended, and I had been eavesdropping on our moms giving him a lecture about fighting. I feel bad because he won’t tell them why he did it. He knows I don’t want our moms knowing I get picked on at school, and I love him for keeping my secret.
“Rook Wallace! We’re not done talking about this!” his mother shouts.
His footsteps pound on the staircase that I sit at the top of. Instead of running back to the safety of my room, I come face to face with a pissed off Rook. As soon as he sees me sitting in his way, he stops, taking in the tears streaming down my face, and his whole demeanor shifts.
“Leigh,” he croaks.
He kneels down on the step below me as his hands slide over my cheeks. Placing a kiss on my forehead, he intertwines our fingers and stands us up. I move with him until we stop at my bedroom door.
“Are you going to come in?” I whisper with a hoarse voice.
“Of course I am.”
We walk hand in hand to my bed, where he lifts up the covers so I can scoot under. He kicks off his shoes and then climbs in on the other side. His smell is all around me, invading every one of my senses, and I love it.
With my back turned, I answer. “Yeah?”
“Don’t cry for me. I don’t mind taking the heat for beating the crap out of that jackass. He deserved it. Mom will get over it. It’s not the first time I’ve been suspended, and it won’t be the last.” He pauses for a moment before continuing, “It was worth it. I won’t let anyone hurt you or make you feel bad about yourself. You have nothing to feel bad about. You’re beautiful, smart and kind.”
Another tear slips from the corner of my eye, but this time, it’s a tear of happiness. Rook Wallace is my happy. He’s the kindest boy I know, and the only person besides my mom who I trust. I love him. And even though he’s never said it, I think he loves me too.
I’ve watched movies about love, and in each one, the boy looks at the girl the way Rook looks at me. Like the girl is the most important thing in his life and he couldn’t live without her. After seeing the look in person, I can relate to those movies. Rook doesn’t need to tell me he loves me when it’s written across his face.