The Last Time We Were Us - Leah Konen Page 0,1
should tell him more. “But the cashiers switched shifts, and the new one didn’t look like a good idea. We have to go somewhere else.”
“Sure. No biggie.” He pushes the start button and pulls onto the road, the car purring like only a BMW can as he moves from first to second gear. “They didn’t take your fake, did they?”
I shake my head.
We find another gas station, a mile or so down the road. I walk in, and all goes off smoothly. When I get back to the car, beer in hand, Innis smiles, rubs his hand over my knee, gives it a light squeeze that gets my heart beating faster. “Thank you very much, Good Lady of the Fake ID.”
He shoots me a teen-model smile, and I focus on how good things are going with Innis. Not whether Jason knows who I came with, or what he thinks of my fake, or the fact that I’m not goodie-goodie Lizzie Grant anymore.
It doesn’t work. I wait until we’re back on our side of town, until the houses are bigger and older, flanked with columns, wedding-cake white. That’s when I spill it. “Jason was in the Gas Xpress.”
“Jason Sullivan,” I say. “That’s why I didn’t get the beer.”
“I know who you meant,” Innis says. I can tell he’s trying to control his temper but it’s not working—his knuckles go white against the steering wheel, and there’s a sharp intake of breath—Innis can go from zero to sixty quicker than his car.
Then his voice softens a little: “Why didn’t you tell me?”
I start to pick at the skin around my fingernails. “I am telling you.”
“I mean back there.”
“What would you have done?” I ask.
“I don’t know.” His face reddens.
“That’s why. I didn’t want you to start something.”
He slams his palm against the wheel. “I knew he got out on Monday, but I was sure it’d be at least a few months before he showed his miserable face.”
I stop picking, clasp my hands in my lap. “How did you know? I didn’t hear anything about it.”
Innis waves my question off with a flick of his wrist. “My dad knows the DA or one of those guys. He was fuming about it last week. Apparently Jason has been nothing but a model prisoner. My dad tried, but there was nothing he could do to stop it.” He turns to me. “If you ask me, it’s just the broke-ass government letting another monster out. Did he say anything to you?”
I ignore his question. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Innis turns to face me. “You’re a good thing, Liz. I don’t like mixing good and bad things together. Plus, why would you care? He’s my problem, not yours.”
I pull out my phone and pretend to be entranced. There are a lot of reasons I would care—I did care—but they’re hard to explain to Innis. They’re even hard to explain to myself.
His eyes are back on the road. “So what did he say?”
“Nothing. He just made it clear that I should go somewhere else. He could have taken my ID, but he didn’t.”
Innis laughs, loud but hardly jovial. “What a pal.”
We get to my house, and he pulls into the driveway, right behind Lyla’s beat-up Honda, the one she’s driven since high school.
I catch his gaze before I get out of the car. “Whatever you’re thinking about, it’s not worth it.”
“He shouldn’t be here,” Innis says. “He really shouldn’t be here.”
“He’s not here.” I rub his shoulder to calm him down. “He’s living in a condo somewhere and working at a gas station that doesn’t card. There are plenty of others. We’ll just take it off our list.”
Innis stares straight ahead, his hands squeezing the wheel again.
“Promise me you won’t do anything stupid,” I say.
Dad comes out of the garage then, pruning shears in hand, and Innis plasters on a smile, gives him a polite wave.
“I promise,” he says, finally looking over at me. “But only if you agree not to see him.”
It’s a boyfriend-y thing to say, I know MacKenzie would agree, the kind of words that make me think I could be more than what I am now: his go-to beer buyer, who he’s made out with exactly five times. The words are nice.
“Believe me. I honestly have no reason to see him.” I step out of the car.
“All right. Then I’ll leave him alone.”
“Good.” And then in a low voice, so Dad won’t hear: “See you tonight.”
His smile comes back then and my heart takes