Home > Exception (Haven Point #2)

Exception (Haven Point #2)
Author: Mariah Dietz

Chapter 1




I rub my eyes, trying to brush away the sleep that moments ago had me in a deep haze. “Yeah.” My voice is a garbled protest due to the early hour.

“What is that?” Kevin groans his own protest from beside me, then rolls over and shoves a pillow over his face.

“It’s my alarm,” I tell him, swiping at my phone to make it stop. “We have to get up.” I lean my head back onto my pillow, taking a deep breath and peer around my small bedroom. The shades keep the August sun muted as I soak in the sounds and details of my space—my home, my minor accomplishment, since graduating college.

The sound of Kevin snoring punctuates the emotions swirling through my thoughts. It’s a quiet nasally sound that he claims is due to sensitive sinuses.

I shove him to wake him back up. “I’m going to get dressed. When you get up, will you put the sheets in the wash?”

Halfway to the bathroom my phone rings, and Mom’s face appears on the screen.

“Hey, Mom,” I say, closing the bathroom door behind me.

“Hi, sweetie. I just want to make sure you’re up. You mentioned you had to be on the road by six, and I know you’ve never been much of a morning person.” She laughs quietly, gently as though understanding the emotional turmoil I’m experiencing.

I stare at my puffy eyes and the blonde hair in tangles around my head. Without my glasses, my reflection is as far as I can see clearly. “Thanks. I appreciate you checking on me. I’m just getting dressed before I pack the last of my things. I should be there early this afternoon.”

“Don’t rush,” she tells me. “Be sure to stop for lunch, and keep your gas tank above the half marker.” Mom pauses, but I don’t have the energy to assure her this morning, especially when I’m already feeling like my adult-card has been revoked. “We’re excited to see you.” Her voice turns gentle again.

“I’m excited to see you, too, Mom.” The trip from Boston to Haven Point, Virginia—the small town I grew up in—is only an eight-hour drive, but over the years, my excuses for not making the trip have increased, and it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been.

“Make sure you drive safely. If you get tired or anything, just pull over and get some coffee. You can also call me. I’ll be at the store, but I’ll leave my phone on.”

My fingers catch in my hair as I brush it back. “I’ll be okay,” I promise her.

“Well, let me know when you get close. That way we can be sure to be home.”

“I will.”

“I love you, honey.”

“I love you, too, Mom.”

I hang up and strip out of my pajamas and into a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. Thoughts are wrapping around fears and twisting with memories, making this idea seem worse and worse by the second. What was I thinking when I decided to sublease my apartment and move back home for a couple of months? I’m going to be living with my parents, in a town that has less people than one square block in Boston.

Money, I remind myself. I need money. And at twenty-seven, I’ve stressed every option short of standing on a street corner. I’m taking the small savings I have left and heading back to Haven Point to work for my parents. I’ll continue applying for jobs here in Boston so I can return to my small apartment and the very large city that I love as soon as possible.

On my way back through my bedroom, I pause next to the foot of my bed, where Kevin is still curled in a ball, sleeping.

I clap my hands. “Time to get up!”

He shifts but doesn’t say anything.

“Kevin!” I say his name louder than necessary, and it feels good. Like yelling is releasing some of the worry and anxiety that has built like a storm inside of me.

The pillow he’s using to cover his head falls as he sits up and looks at me, blinking heavily against the lit room. “What’s going on?”

“I have to go. It’s nearly six.”

“You’re really going through with it?” Under his short blond hair, his eyes are bleary.

“Yes!” I cry. “I’ve been telling you about this for weeks.”

He scrubs a hand over his face. “I know, but who wants to move back home with their parents? I figured you’d come up with an alternative. Are you sure this is the best option?” he asks, remaining in my bed.

“You really want to discuss this now? The people who are going to be renting this place are arriving soon.”

Blue eyes the color of steel widen with my harsh tone. “Why are you upset with me? This wasn’t my idea.”

“I’m not!” I brush a stray tear from my cheek, feeling defensive, though I know it’s slightly irrational. But I need support, not reminders of how I’ve officially failed at adulting.

Kevin raises his hands in the air in mock surrender and stands. “Don’t shoot the messenger. I just thought maybe you’d realize how bad of an idea this is.”

I lower my eyebrows and pull my chin back in anger. “What do you propose I do instead?”

Kevin spreads both hands between us, calling for peace. It’s a gesture he does anytime I don’t agree with him. At one time I thought it was cute, but right now it serves as a slap in the face. “Maybe you could stay with Violet?”

“How am I going to make or save money by staying with my best friend?”

He smiles warily and approaches me. Warm arms embrace me, the heat from my bed emanating from his chest. It doesn’t feel comforting, though, it feels suffocating. I want to get on the road and get this day over with.

I pull back, forcing him to release his grip.

“Remind me how long you’re planning on staying there?” he asks.

“At least two months.”

“Two months?” His steel-blue eyes sweep over me as I nod, and then he lifts his shoulders in a shrug and expels a deep breath. “Well, let me know when you get back in town, I guess?” It sounds more like a question rather than a suggestion.

Months ago—probably even weeks ago—him saying this would have made me consider cutting my trip back so I could rush home. I had a crush on Kevin Christensen for months before he noticed me, and then once he did, it still took a few more months before he asked me out. Except it wasn’t for a date.

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