I crawled into Ryan Jensen’s bed that first night by accident. I barely knew him. I thought it was his sister’s bed—her room. It took seconds to realize my error, and I should've left... I didn’t. I didn’t jump out. I didn’t get embarrassed. I relaxed. And that night, in that moment, it was the only thing I craved. I asked to stay. He let me, and I slept. The truth? I never wanted to leave his bed. If I could've stayed forever, I would have. He became my sanctuary. Because—four hours earlier—my twin sister killed herself.
** A stand-alone young adult novel.
You make me feel things I thought were gone.
“I know you snuck out last night. I saw you.” My door was open an inch, and Robbie was there. I would’ve teased him about being a creeper except for the sadness, yearning, and caution that filled his eyes. “Hey, kiddo.” I was at my desk and slid the chair over enough to toe open the door. “You come around these parts often?” A soft giggle was my reward, and he came in, bouncing to a seat on the bed. His eyes calmed. “So you caught me, huh?” I smiled, leaning back in my chair. “What do I owe you? You didn’t rat me out to Mom and Dad.” He rested his hands next to his legs and lifted his shoulders. “You were with Ryan. I knew you were safe.” “Yeah?” His cheeks pinked, and he looked down at his lap. “Ryan’s cool.” “I agree.” “Did you sleep together again?” For a moment, I had no words. It sounded wrong, that sentence coming from my eleven-year-old brother. "Uh . . . what?” “Sleeping next to him helps you sleep. I overheard at the Jensens’ house, and I assumed there was a reason you were in his bed.” He lifted his hands, folding them in his lap. “Is that why you left last night? So you could sleep?” He thought I left to sleep. Then again, maybe he was right. It wasn’t about seeing Ryan or sneaking out and giving a silent middle finger to my parents. I sighed. Robbie was too young to deal with any of this—with Willow’s decisions or mine. “Forget about me. How’re you doing?” He’d been kicking his feet back and forth, but he paused at my question. He looked away. “I’m fine.” “Hey.” I scooted my chair closer and tapped on his knee. “I mean it. How are you?” He looked back, and my heart was almost ripped out. Unshed tears hung on his lashes. “I’m fine.” His voice trembled. We’d been there for each other before the funeral, during the funeral, and I’d like to say afterward, but I couldn’t. Since we’d come back to Portside, I’d shut down. Literally. Going to see Ryan last night had been almost the first thing I’d done besides going from my bedroom to the kitchen or bathroom. Seeing his tears made me want to curse myself. “Hey.” I gentled my voice even more. “If you need anything, you can come to me. You know that, right?” “Where’d you go?” “We went to the movies.” “Where’d you sleep? At Ryan’s?” “I . . .” The words were stuck in my mouth. He looked at me, completely innocent and vulnerable, and I contemplated lying to him. That was what it was. Not telling the truth was a lie. I shook my head. “We came home. I was going to come in, but we snuck into his friend’s house. He lives next door to us.” “And you slept there?” I nodded. “Good. You look better today. And I didn’t hear you crying last night.” “I didn’t know you could hear me.” He bobbed his head and jumped up from my bed. I could see his mind whirling. He was already thinking about whatever he would do next in his room, and he headed for the door. “You cry every night. I’m glad you didn’t last night.” He pulled open my door. “You should do that every night.” And then he was gone. I could’ve looked down to see my beating heart at my feet. He’d ripped me open. Again.