The Lies That Define Us(19)

By: Micalea Smeltzer


I stared at him like he’d lost his mind.

“Um…good, I guess?” It came out sounding like a question since I was so taken aback that he’d even asked.

He nodded at the information, tapping his thumbs against the top of the steering wheel.

“Cool.”

And that was that.

I stared out the window, marveling at the passing scenery of palm trees, cute houses, and people walking on the sidewalk without a care for the world.

When we made it to his house, Ollie was parked in the driveway. He hopped out as Liam pulled his Jeep into the garage. Without a word, the two of us got out of the car to greet him.

Ollie was grinning from ear to ear and pointed at us triumphantly. “I have a solution to our problem.”

“And what’s that?” Liam questioned him, his voice gruff from lack of enthusiasm.

“A bicycle!” He said it with such glee you would’ve thought he was announcing that he’d discovered a unicorn.

“A bicycle?” Liam chuckled. “Why am I not surprised?” To me, he said, “Ollie works at a bike store, so…”

“Hey,” Ollie held up a hand, “it’s still a fan-fucking-tastic idea regardless of whether or not I made a commission.”

“Commission?” Liam narrowed his eyes on his friend.

Ollie grinned slowly, revealing all of his teeth. “I charged it to your account.”

Liam tossed his hands in the air and ground out, “Of course you did.”

I glanced from Liam to Ollie. “I don’t have to have it. You can return it so Liam gets his money back.”

Liam opened his mouth to say something, but was cut off by Ollie.

“Actually, it was on clearance and non-refundable.”

I winced and glanced at Liam. “Sorry.”

He waved away my concern. “It’s fine. I don’t have the time to drive you everywhere, so this is a decent idea.”

Ollie grinned and clapped his hands together. “Did you just say I had a good idea? Think you can repeat that? I didn’t quite hear you loud enough.” Ollie cupped a hand around his ear and leaned forward.

Liam sneered and turned to head back inside. “I said decent idea, not good.” He flipped Ollie off before the side of the Jeep obscured him.

Ollie shook his head, his hair flopping around and falling into his eyes. He brushed it away with a sweep of his long fingers and then tossed his thumb over his shoulder.

“You want to see it?”

“Sure.” I shrugged and followed him to the back of the van.

He swung the trunk open, and inside sat a bright yellow bike. He heaved it out and set it on the ground, and I reached out and ran my fingers along the cool metal of the handlebars.

“Thank you, I love it.” I smiled up at him.

“I know it’s not a car, but I figured it would do.” He smiled crookedly.

“It’s great, really. Thanks for this.”

“Thank Liam.” He chuckled, rolling the bike into the garage. It even had a little woven basket attached to the front.

“Riiiight.” I nodded.

Ollie leaned the bike against the wall and headed back to his van. “I’ve gotta go, but I’m sure we’ll see you soon.”

“Mhm, bye.” I waved as he got in the car.

I headed inside and straight to the kitchen for a snack. Liam had already disappeared, which didn’t surprise me at all.

I made my sandwich and carried it upstairs to the room I was staying in. I figured the less he saw of me the better. And it wasn’t like I wanted to be around him anyway.

Right?





Liam





Ari had been living with me for two weeks, and in that two weeks she’d woken up screaming every single night.

She usually found me in the kitchen, just like that first night, but I never said anything, and she didn’t either. I think she hoped I didn’t hear her night terrors, but in her gut she knew I had to, and that’s why she didn’t say anything.

Standing by the glass door leading into my backyard, I watched as workers hustled around getting set up for the Fourth of July party.

It would be the second year I held the party at my house.

In past years, I’d always celebrated the holiday with my family at the Wentworth Mansion.

Once I left Virginia, though, I hadn’t wanted to go back.