Last Day of Love: A Teardrop Story (Teardrop #0)

Last Day of Love: A Teardrop Story (Teardrop #0) - Page 7/7

She took a breath, remembering that the car was Rhoda’s status symbol anyway, not something she’d loved. Magda was screwed, no question about it. But what did Eureka do now?

Thirty minutes until the meet. Still ten miles from school. If she didn’t show up, Coach would think Eureka was blowing her off.

“I need your insurance information,” she called, finally remembering the line Dad had drilled into her months before she got her license.

“Insurance?” The boy shook his head and shrugged.

She kicked a tire on his truck. It was old, probably from the early eighties, and she might have thought it was cool if it hadn’t just crushed her car. Its hood had sprung open, but the truck wasn’t even scratched.

“Unbelievable.” She glared at the guy. “Your car’s not wrecked at all.”

“Whaddya expect? It’s a Chevy,” the boy said in an affected bayou accent, quoting a truly annoying commercial for the truck that had aired throughout Eureka’s childhood. It was another thing people said that meant nothing.

He forced a laugh, studied her face. Eureka knew she turned red when she was angry. Brooks called it the Bayou Blaze.

“What do I expect?” She approached the boy. “I expect to be able to get in a car without having my life threatened. I expect the people on the road around me to have some rudimentary sense of traffic laws. I expect the dude who rear-ends me not to act so smug.”

She had brought the storm too close, she realized. By now their bodies were inches apart and she had to tilt her neck back, which hurt, to look him in those blue eyes. He was a half a foot taller than Eureka, and she was a tall five eight.

“But I guess I expected too much. Your dumb ass doesn’t even have insurance.”

They were still standing really close for no reason other than Eureka had thought the boy would retreat. He didn’t. His breath tickled her forehead. He tilted his head to the side, watching her closely, studying her harder than she studied for tests. He blinked a few times, and then, very slowly, he smiled.

As the smile deepened across his face, something fluttered inside Eureka. Against her will, she yearned to smile back. It made no sense. He was smiling at her like they were old friends, the way she and Brooks might snicker if one of them hit the other’s car. But Eureka and this kid were total strangers. And yet, by the time his broad smile slid into a soft, intimate chuckle, the edges of Eureka’s lips had twitched upward, too.

“What are you smiling at?” She meant to scold him, but it came out like a laugh, which astonished her, then made her mad. She turned away. “Forget it. Don’t talk. My stepmonster is going to kill me.”

“It wasn’t your fault.” The boy beamed like he’d just won the Nobel Prize for Rednecks. “You didn’t ask for this.”

“Nobody does,” she muttered.

“You were stopped at a stop sign. I hit you. Your monster will understand.”

“You’ve obviously never had the pleasure of Rhoda.”

“Tell her I’ll take care of your car.”

She ignored him, walking back to the Jeep to grab her backpack and pry her phone out of its holster on the dashboard. She’d call Dad first. She pressed speed dial number two. Speed dial one still called Diana’s cell. Eureka couldn’t bear to change it.

No surprise, Dad’s phone rang and rang. After his long lunch shift was over, but before he got to leave the restaurant, he had to prep about three million pounds of boiled seafood, so his hands were probably coated with shrimp antennae.

“I promise you,” the boy was saying in the background, “it’s going to be okay. I’ll make it up to you. Look, my name is—”

“Shhh.” She held up a hand, spinning away from him to stand at the edge of the sugarcane field. “You lost me at ‘It’s a Chevy.’ ”

“I’m sorry.” He followed her, his shoes crunching on the thick stalks of cane near the road. “Let me explain—”

Eureka scrolled through her contacts to pull up Rhoda’s number. She rarely called Dad’s wife, but now she didn’t have a choice. The phone rang six times before it went to Rhoda’s endless voice mail greeting. “The one time I actually want her to pick up!”

She dialed Dad again, and again. She tried Rhoda twice more before stuffing her phone in her pocket. She watched the sun sinking into the treetops. Her teammates would be dressed out for the race by now. Coach would be eyeing the parking lot for Eureka’s car. Her right wrist still throbbed. She clenched her eyes in pain as she clutched it to her chest. She was stranded. She began to shake.

Find your way out of a foxhole, girl.

Diana’s voice sounded so close it made Eureka lightheaded. Goose bumps rose on her arms and something burned at the back of her throat. When she opened her eyes, the boy was standing right in front of her. He gazed at her with guileless concern, the way she watched the twins when one of them was really sick.

“Don’t,” the boy said.

“Don’t what?” Her voice quavered just as unannounced tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. They were so foreign, clouding her perfect vision.

The sky rumbled, reverberating inside Eureka the way the biggest thunderstorms did. Dark clouds rolled across the trees, sealing the sky with a green-gray storm. Eureka braced for a downpour.

A single tear spilled from the corner of her left eye and was about to trickle down her cheek. But before it did—

The boy raised his index finger, reached toward her, and caught the tear on his fingertip. Very slowly, as if he held something precious, he carried the salty drop away from her, toward his own face. He pressed it into the corner of his right eye. Then he blinked and it was gone.

“There, now,” he whispered. “No more tears.”