Keeping You Away - Kennedy Fox Page 0,2

mashed potatoes as we sit around the table. She even made a pecan pie, and it was still warm when she sliced it. It was a good old-fashioned Southern meal—something I haven’t eaten in years—and just what I needed to feel at home. I’ll be staying here in my old bedroom, but everyone’s aware it’s only temporary. Before I got here, I told them I wouldn’t be settling in town, and they spent the better half of dinner trying to talk me into staying.

“I’m gonna get ready for the party, then we’ll go, okay?” Everleigh says as she skips toward the staircase.

“You only want me to go so I can drive you there and back.”

“Well, duh!” She laughs as she goes up to her room.

Over an hour later, she finally comes down all dressed up. Her blond hair is in curls, and her skirt is too damn short.

“That’s what you’re wearing?” I raise my brows, waiting for Mimi or Pops to say something. She moved out of our mother’s house the year I left and visits sparingly. I don’t blame Everleigh for not wanting to live with her, considering I have no intention of seeing my mom at all. While I was gone, my mother never wrote, called, or reached out to me in any way. She couldn’t care less that I’m home, and I don’t care to waste my time. She’s been toxic my whole life, and it’s obvious that won’t change.

“You look adorable, Everleigh!” Mimi praises, and I stand in shock.

Everleigh sticks her tongue out at me, then gets her purse.

Inhaling sharply, I grab my keys and walk toward the door. “Alright, let’s go then.”

The party is being held in her friends’ backyards, and I bet it takes all of thirty seconds before one of the neighbors calls the cops. When I was in high school, we always brought booze we stole from our parents and snuck it into our red Solo cups with cola. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re doing the same thing.

“Gemma, Katie, Gabe, and Noah are there already,” Everleigh says as we turn onto Main Street, then she looks over at me. “You’ll be okay if I wander off, or do you need supervision?”

“You mean, do I need to supervise you?”

“Puh-leese. I’ve been supervising myself just fine while you were gone.” She flips her hair.

I lift a brow. “Really?”

“I’m not pregnant, addicted to drugs or alcohol, and I graduated with good grades. You should be praising me.”

“I’m proud of you for not becoming a statistic.” When she furrows her brows, I add, “You didn’t become an addict like Mom.”

The mood changes, and she frowns, then lowers her eyes. “I invited her to come tonight. No surprise she didn’t show up.”

Leaning over, I squeeze her shoulder. “It’s her loss, Everleigh. You know that.”

She nods, then flashes a small smile. “You coming is the best gift I could’ve ever gotten anyway.”

Once we arrive and I find a place to park, we walk toward the crowd of people. Everleigh’s greeted by a bunch of her classmates, and she shrieks when she sees her group of friends. There’s a huge table set up with snacks and desserts, and of course, several people have red cups.

The moment I see Gemma, I swallow down the lump in my throat and follow my sister toward them. She’s wearing a skirt that’s so tight it’s like a second skin on her petite frame. I was right, the pictures she sent didn’t do her justice. She’s grown into a beautiful woman.

“Guys, you remember my brother. He’s finally home!” Everleigh proudly pulls me closer.

“Hey, man. Lookin’ good.” Noah gives me a fist bump.


Gabe gives me a head nod before he whispers in Katie’s ear, and the two of them take off. Noah watches them with jealousy but tries to play it off like it’s nothing, then brings his attention back to us.

“Noah, can you show me where the drinks are?” Everleigh loops her arm through his. As they walk away, she looks over her shoulder and smirks, leaving Gemma and me alone.

“Congrats,” I tell her as she stands in silence. “Bet you’re glad to be done with school.”

“Thanks.” She smiles. “I am.”

Awkwardness lingers and the last place I want to be right now is at a party where everyone can see us. “Any chance you wanna get the hell outta here?”

Her face lights up, and she smiles. “Definitely yes.”

“Just gonna let my sister know, and then we can head out,” I explain, grabbing my