Home > Saint (Angelview Academy #1)

Saint (Angelview Academy #1)
Author: E.M. Snow




I open the door and, instantly, the air is sucked out of my body.

As hot as it is outside—and trust me, Atlanta in July is hell on earth—the inside of the condo is stifling. No stiff breeze to give the illusion of airflow. Everything is still and stale and unbearable, like much of my life. I should be used to it by now. After all, Carley’s place is a palace compared to all the living situations Mom had put us in when she still had custody of me.

Still, palace or not, it blows living in an oven.

“Carley,” I holler as I walk inside and drop my purse on the glass table by the front door. I grab a copy of Us Weekly from the edge and fan my face with it, but it’s pointless against the inferno. Tossing the magazine back to the table, I mimic the fake-ass, porcelain-veneered smile of the newest Bachelorette on the cover, pretend to barf, then yell for Carley again.

“Hmm?” She sounds like she’s got a mouth full of something, and my stomach clenches with hunger.

“Please, can we just say screw the landlord and get the AC fixed ourselves?”

“Nope, because he’ll never reimburse me if I do that.”

Snorting, I trudge into the kitchen, where I know she’ll be. Sure enough, she’s leaning against the counter next to the fridge, eating Bunny Tracks ice cream right out of the container and wearing a purple sports bra and cutoff shorts, with her blond hair piled in a loose bun. Carley is barely old enough to pass as my mom, just like my actual mother, who had popped me out her senior year of high school. Unlike my actual mother, Carley is enough of a responsible adult that I don’t have to worry about coming home to find her passed out in the bathroom in the middle of the day, high or drunk. Or both.

And usually with some random guy passed out right next to her with his naked, pimply ass exposed.

Carley peeks up at me as I enter the room, her blue eyes flashing with guilt for a second, but it’s gone as fast as it appeared. “How was work?”

“I cleaned up a shitty tipper’s shit off a toilet seat,” I grumble, then nod at the ice cream, my irritation spiking. “That’s mine.”

“Sorry, Mal, it’s just so hot,” she replies with a sheepish shrug, digging her spoon into the creamy heaven of caramel, chocolate, and peanuts and watching me as I stalk toward her.

“Hopefully it’ll be so hot the next time you go to Walmart. That way you won’t forget to replace it.” I snatch a spoon from the utensil drawer by her hip, hop up onto the counter, then pluck the container from her hands.

“Didn’t your momma ever tell you that sharing is caring?”

“Nope,” I mutter, making a show of eating the ice cream with relish, smacking my lips as I hold eye contact with Carley. “Jenn was too busy selling our EBT card for methadone and Xanax or trying to find me a new daddy at the Flying J.”

Folding her arms across her ample chest, she swishes her head from side to side. “You’re in a mood and a half, girl.”

“It’s fucking hot. No shit I’m in a mood.”

Her lips flatten in a tight line of disapproval. “Language, young lady.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

As I eat, I ignore her glares. I know I’m being a huge bitch, but I can’t help it. Work was awful today. Some asshole really did puke out of both ends all over the restroom of the dumpy diner I drag myself to every morning just to put up with godawful tips and a dick boss who gets handsy whenever he thinks no one’s watching. Coming home to no AC for the fifth day in a row did jack shit for my terrible mood.

“Mallory…” Releasing a sigh, Carley drops her arms to her sides, and when I glance up at her from beneath my lashes, my chest clenches. She looks … tired. Which of course causes guilt to swarm me like angry bees. She had willingly upended her entire life so that she could take in her best friend’s teenage daughter when all hell broke loose last winter. It’s not Carley’s fault my job sucks. It’s not her fault there’s no AC. She’s called her sketchy landlord several times, and he has yet to respond.

It’s also not Carley’s fault my mom’s a skanky bitch who’d ruined my life.

That’s not entirely true, my inner voice reminds me, it’s tone viciously cruel. You ruined your own life. In fact, you killed it.

The chill that races down my spine is painful. Uninvited. I’ll take the sweltering heat over it all day, every day.

“Look, Mal,” Carley continues, pinching the bridge of her nose and clamping her eyes shut. “I know this situation isn’t ideal, but you have to know I’m trying. Really, I am.”

“I know.” God, I’m such a dick. Resting the ice cream container on the counter, I slide to the floor. Standing on the tips of my toes—because everyone is taller than me—I wrap my arms around her and lay my head on her shoulder, nuzzling my nose into her shirt. She smells like lavender fabric softener and Dove soap. “I’m sorry, Carley. I’m the worst. You’re the best.”

She hugs me back, stroking her fingers down the long braid that I always put my dark brown hair in when I go to work. “You’re just saying that so I won’t kick you out,” she teases.

“Mean ass woman,” I whisper but I clutch her tighter for a moment. Carley has been a lifesaver. My rock.

Every person has moments in their life that are turning points, and after those moments, nothing is ever the same again. I only have one turning point of note. It happened last December. The accident. There was my life before the accident, and then my life after. Before, I was living with my mom in Rayfort, excited about my junior year of high school and avoiding the shit at home as much as I could by hanging out with my best friend James and wishing his brother, Dylan, would notice me.

Now, Mom’s on the run, everyone in Rayfort wishes I’d step in front of a bus, and I’m practically in hiding in Atlanta with Carley.

Who doesn’t deserve an ounce of my shit because I don’t know how I could have gotten through the last seven months without her.

“Thanks, Carley. Seriously,” I murmur, drawing away from her with a tiny smile tugging at my lips.

She brushes a stray strand of hair from my forehead, then cups my cheeks. It’s such a gentle, motherly gesture, it makes my heart ache. It’s something Mom would never have done. Jenn has never been big on showing affection—or being a mother in general—and I’ve always wondered how someone like Carley became friends with her.

Guess that old saying that opposites attract is true as fuck.

“All right, enough mushy stuff.” Giving my cheek a parting pat, she snatches the ice cream from the counter and stuffs it back in the freezer, between a frozen pizza and a stack of the icepacks she uses for her lunchbox. “There’s chicken salad in the fridge, the good stuff from Sophie’s and not that nasty crap I tried to make last week. I’m going to catch a nap before my shift tonight. Are you good?”

I nod. “Yeah. You go sleep. I’m going to have lunch and maybe take a nap myself.”

“Sounds good, baby girl. Anything happens later, you give me a call, okay?”

We go through this routine at least three times a week, but I accept the hand she holds out to me, linking my pinkie finger with hers. “Swear it.”

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