“We have fifteen minutes to get you home,” Dustin said. This was a nightly ritual with us. He would take me home, then run off to a party or to go play basketball. It was painful to imagine him being around other girls, drinking and staying out late. I had told him once that it worried me that he would get tired of my parents’ rules and break up with me. He’d assured me he loved me and only me. Always.
I jerked my head around, startled by his outburst, to see him holding up his used condom. The come that was supposed to be neatly inside was coating the outside of the latex.
“Motherfucking condom broke,” he swore, before slinging it out the window. “That’s the second time this has happened with the box I bought last week. I’m getting a different brand,” he grumbled.
“I didn’t know another one had broken,” I said, trying to remember the time spent in the back of Dustin’s car the past week.
His face paled a moment, and then he shrugged. “I didn’t want to worry you. It pissed me off and I forgot. But that’s twice now. I’ll get us new ones. Don’t worry,” he said with a wink, then tugged his jeans up and fastened them.
“Let’s get you home.” He opened the door and climbed out, before reaching in and taking my hand to help me. Once we were both standing outside, he wrapped his arms around me and inhaled deeply. “I don’t know what I’d do without you, Sienna. I love you so goddamn much. You’re my center. You keep me focused and grounded. I can trust you with anything.”
This was the Dustin I knew. My best friend. The guy across the street I had known all my life. Not the popular jock who drank too much at parties.
I stood on my tiptoes to kiss him, and he still had to lean down so I could reach his lips. Dustin was already two inches taller than his older brother. The Falco boys were tall. But Dewayne had wider shoulders and the kind of muscles that only men had. Dustin was still a boy. But he was my boy.
Still, that didn’t keep me from looking at Dewayne whenever I could get away with it. When Dewayne was outside washing his car, I was up in my room watching from behind the safety of my curtains. Any chance I had of getting a glimpse of Dewayne, I secretly took it.
The day Dewayne sat down beside me at lunch, he had become my hero. He had come to rescue me. And since then he had stepped in and saved me more than once. Having this guy who seemed larger than life always there to help me did things to my heart I couldn’t control. Even though I tried to stop feeling things for him. I just couldn’t.
I was in love with Dustin Falco, but I was in complete idol worship over his older brother, a fact I could only admit to myself. He was the kind of beautiful that a girl couldn’t ignore.
* * *
That night after I was tucked into bed and my thoughts drifted to fantasies of Dewayne (because this was the only time I allowed myself to mentally cheat on my boyfriend with his older brother), I heard the sirens. You didn’t hear sirens a lot in Sea Breeze. It was a small town, and rarely did the ambulances, police cars, and fire trucks have cause to run off to the same location. But the louder they got, the more serious I realized it was. Getting out of bed, I went to my window and looked down the road. I could hear them, but I couldn’t see them. All I knew was they were close.
The noise didn’t fade, but instead grew louder as more emergency vehicles joined in. I wrapped my blanket around me and sat down on my window seat to wait. I couldn’t sleep with all the noise, and I decided saying a prayer for whoever was the cause of this was important. My parents had raised me in church, and I completely believed in prayer.
Just as I closed my eyes my bedroom door opened, and I turned to see my mother standing there with a look of horror on her face. Was my dad home? I stood up as fear gripped me, and I met her gaze. “What’s wrong, Momma?” I asked. “Is Daddy here? He is, isn’t he?”
She nodded. “We’re all here,” she said, then put her hand on her heart and took a deep breath. “That’s not . . .” She stopped and closed her eyes. I let the blanket fall to the ground and started to go to her. She was scaring me.
“Momma, tell me what’s wrong,” I begged.
She lifted her eyes, and I saw the unshed tears shining in them. “It’s Dustin, sweetheart.”
“Dustin?” I asked, stopping and grabbing the first thing I could find to steady myself.
She nodded. “Your daddy just got off the phone with the pastor. He’s on his way to the Falcos’ now. Dustin wrapped his car around a tree,” she said, her voice trailing off.
He wrapped his car around a tree? How did he do that? I had just been with him two hours ago. “But is he okay?” I asked as the sirens continued to mock me. With all those emergency vehicles out there, how could he be okay?
Momma shook her head. “No, Sienna. He’s not okay. He’s . . . he’s gone, honey.”
Six years later . . .
I never expected to step foot in Sea Breeze, Alabama, again. When my parents had packed my bags and shipped me off to live in Fort Worth, Texas, with my mom’s sister, who I hardly knew, I had been told I would return to Sea Breeze after the baby was born. What I hadn’t been told was that they weren’t planning on my baby returning with me.
I glanced back at Micah, asleep in his car seat with his Darth Vader action figure clenched tightly in his hand. Our life hadn’t been easy, but we had each other. I wouldn’t go back and do it any other way. Micah was my life. He had healed me when I was sure nothing ever could.