Keep the Beat

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Chapter 17

“Hey Max, are you okay?” I questioned as I sat down at the table for dinner. Everyone glanced at me in confusion before looking over at Max.

“Yeah he has been very quiet, I didn’t even notice.” Caleb murmured to himself in realization.

“How could you notice? These Barbecue ribs are the bomb!” Cassie moaned. I frowned at their carelessness and turned back to Max.

“You usually greet me with one of those creepily innocent smiles that says you’re gonna start a row, what’s up?”

“Nothing, I’m fine.” He grumbled.

“No ones ever fine, when they say their fine.”

“Oh well, better get all the dictionary’s and change the definition of fine to not-fine, because May Riley said so!”

“Alright sassy.” I decided to continue staring at him until he cracks under my sharp gaze and spills his secrets, I slowly waved my hand in his direction. “You will tell me what’s wrong with you.”

“May stop it. You’re not some sort of Jedi master, you’re not Obi Wan Kenobi.” He muttered, rolling his eyes at me.

“I be who I wanna be!” I snapped back, scowling.

“What’s wrong with Max?” Chase asked as he sat beside me.

“You see it too?”

“Yeah, usually he makes some sort of lame comment about me and you.”

“Would you just shut up? I’m fine!” Max demanded, his voice raising slightly. Cassie raised an eyebrow at him and slapped the back of his head for being so rude. I could tell that Cassie knew what was wrong with him and was probably sworn to secrecy.

“Are you sure you’re fine Max?” I heard a mocking voice taunt. I looked up at James who made his way over to the table. I scoffed in disgust and glared at Jessica.

“Why is your minion here?”

“James go away.” Jessica ordered in a bored voice.

“Like I’d listen to you. You’ve gone soft Jess, like you’re all buddy buddy with them.” James tutted before turning back to Max. “You’ll get over it Max, it was never going to work anyway.”

Max stood up abruptly and stormed off. Cassie watched after him with sympathy while Jessica lunged for James, disgusted with being called ‘soft’. I sighed and shook my head at them. Chase grabbed my hand before I could leave.

“Chris wants you to go to his office later, he said he needed to ask you something.” He stated before letting me go so that I could jog after Max.

“Oi! Typical Ass, wait up!” I called, as I increased my pace to reach him.

“It’s ‘Typically Awesome’!”

“Yeah sure, Typical Ass.” I shrugged and stood on my tiptoes, throwing my arm over his shoulder. He sighed in defeat and sat down by the water fountain outside the dining area. I patted his back as he buried his face in his hands.

“She broke up with me.”

I frowned, “The chick you were with?”

“No my side chick,” he drawled sarcastically, “yes. Her.”

“But you guys were going strong!”

“I thought so too.”

“That’s why James was acting like his usual asshole of a self?”

“That and the fact that she’s with him again.”

My mouth dropped open in utter shock, “After everything?

“After everything.” He confirmed. I rubbed his back in a soothing motion as I saw his eyes well up. I sucked at dealing with crying people so I just sat there awkwardly. “I just don’t know what to do? Do I ignore her? Fight him? Try and get her back?”

“Why did she say she broke up with you?” I asked softly.

“She said-” He snorted humorlessly, “that we were never going to last, James and her always ‘worked well’ together. She said that she liked me, but didn’t see a future with me. Blah blah blah, but I know the freaking truth alright!”

My silence edged him on. “Her family met me and my family. Realized that we were all sort of broke. Realized that James is rich as fuck. Went like, hey- remember how James always got me gifts while all Max can do is sing a stupid song and pick flowers? Her parents obviously hated us, so she probably had to too. And voila. Here I am.”

I smiled softly at him, “I’d prefer a song and daffodils over any stupid present.”

That made him smile a bit and he let me hug him. “You’re wearing the t-shirt I got you for Christmas.” I mumbled in realization as I hugged him tightly.

“It’s my favorite!” He grinned as he stared down at the rainbow colored puppy eating unicorn poop (which was candy floss by the way).

“I’m not the best at giving relationship advise-“

“-Yet you and Chase are going strong…”

“We aren’t together! But anyway, others will probably completely disagree with this and they’ll say I’m too harsh. But this is always how I see this sort of thing so-“

“Just tell me.”

“I’m not going to tell you to fight for her. Or to fight him. Because honestly? If she is willing to give up an amazing guy like you for an asshole like him, all because of money? Then how the hell is she worth it man?”

He didn’t reply.

“If she broke up with you because she got scared or if she broke up with you because she honestly felt like you two didn’t have a future, then I would tell you to fight for her. And show her the truth. But reasons like money or family opinions shouldn’t matter!” I took a deep breath, recovering myself before I could continue. “My Mom and Dad disapprove of everything I do! They hated music- and yeah Mom has sort of come around lately- but they hated my friends, they definitely hate the idea of Chase, but I don’t give a shit! I understand ‘respecting your parents’, but you should have more respect for yourself to know when to make your own decisions and to know what makes you happy.”

“So you don’t think I should go after her?”

“Let the girl fight for the guy for a change, and if she doesn’t? Then you deserve someone who loves you and everything about you. Who appreciates your songs and flowers, who doesn’t give a shit about whats in your bank. Find someone who’s actually worth fighting for.”

He nodded at me, his face held a look of awe as he pulled me in for another hug. “You lied, you are good at this.”

“I’m good at everything!” I boasted sarcastically, making his snort unattractively.

From the corner of my eye I saw James approach, causing me to mentally groan. I heard him laugh out loud, his laughter was taunting and irritating. “You move on fast man!”

I unwrapped myself from Max and glared at him. “Seriously mate?” I snapped at him. He just smirked and crossed his arms.

“Do us a favor, go take a walk in the woods and hopefully get lost for a while, maybe get kidnapped? Hey, one can only wish as long as you’re not near me I’m happy!” I hissed, rolling my eyes at him.

“You’re such a darling May.” He smiled sarcastically.

“And you’re such a dick James.” I responded with an equally sarcastic smile.

“It’s funny how Max can never stand up for himself, you’re always there-” Max was up with a flash and was holding him by the front of his shirt. James was grinning while I grabbed Max’s shirt and pulled him away.

“He isn’t worth it man!” I shouted, pushing him back. “You don’t need to hit him to prove anything!”

“Well it’s not like he can do anything else? He’s in a music camp and can hardly sing.” James cackled.

Max breathed in deeply, “Leave now before I do something that you’ll regret.”

James scoffed at him, but obeyed, winking at us. I pulled Max back over to the fountain so that he could calm down. “Let it out.” I told him.

“How exactly?” He laughed bitterly.

“I sing when I’m pissed. Usually I sing a song that describes exactly how I feel.”

He looked at me for a moment and laughed to himself. “See you driving ’round town, with the girl I love and I’m like, forget you!

I grinned and began tapping on the cold surface of the fountain to the rhythm of the song. “Ooh ooh!”

“I guess the change in my pocket,

wasn’t enough, I’m like:

Forget you!

And forget her too!” We fist-bumped as he continued.

“Said, if I was richer,
I’d still be with ya!

Ha, oh ain’t that some ssh.”

“Ain’t that some shit!” I sang in repeat, finishing the sentence instead of being polite.

“And although there’s pain in my chest!

I still wish you the best with a,

forget you!” He jumped up into a standing position on the fountain.

“Ooh ooh!”

People began to crowd around, watching us.

“Yeah I’m sorry, I can’t afford a Ferrari!
But that don’t mean I can’t get you there.
I guess he’s an X-box, and I’m more Atari!
But the way you play your game ain’t fair!” I sang, twirling myself around in a circle.

“I pity the fool that falls in love with you oh, she’s a gold digger! Well. Just thought you should know mister!” Max jumped in.

“Ooh, ooh, ohh!
I’ve got some news for you!
” I turned to Max with a serious expression as he carried it on.

“Yeah go run and tell your little boyfriend!” He mimicked a high pitched girly voice.

“See you driving ’round town
With the girl I love and I’m like
Fuck you!
” I cried out, throwing away the formalities and replacing ‘forget you’ with a well deserved ‘fuck you’.

“I guess the change in my pocket
Wasn’t enough, I’m like;
Fuck you!
And fuck her too!
” Max added, shrugging his shoulders as we pranced around on the edge of the water fountain.

“Said, if I was richer, I’d still be with ya!
Ha, oh ain’t that some shit!
Ain’t that some ssh!
And although there’s pain in my chest!
I still wish you the best with a-
Fuck you!” We sang with the crowd of campers who had come over.

“Now baby, baby, baby, why d’you wanna wanna hurt me so bad?” Max sang.

I tried to tell my mamma but she told me ‘This is one for your dad!’” I added.

“Uh, why? Uh, why? Uh!
Why lady?
Oh, I love you!
I still love you, oh!” We sang together before leaping off the wall in-sync.

“I see you driving ’round town
With the girl I love and I’m like

Fuck you!”

“May! I was waiting for you!” Chris exclaimed once I entered. I smiled at him awkwardly, watching him jump out of his seat and approach me.

Chris’s office was clean and organised. I bet Kelly had something to do with it, but all of his files were labeled, books neatly stack, and papers all inside folders.

“You see, I’m thinking of organizing a memorial.”

“For Mister Williams?” I questioned.

He nodded, “I wanted the campers to sing something at it. I was going to ask Shannon but she seems really- agitated at the moment? And I thought you’d be the best to organize it because you’re the only one that can get everyone to actually work together.”

“Okay, what would you like us to sing?” I ignored the ‘Shannon being agitated thing’. She was still furious and we were all scared of her. I’m leaving Caleb to that mess, he’s made a list of things to do to cheer her up.

“Whatever you feel suits.” He smiled at me.

My mind began racing through different songs that we could all sing. “Okay cool, I’ll tell everyone at breakfast tomorrow. We can organize some sort of choir kind of thing? So that everyone get’s to sing.”

“That’s a good idea.” He pats my shoulder and smiled sincerely at me. “Thank you May.”

“It’s no bother, really.”

“I have to go make calls. There’s a lot of Mister Williams friends wanting to come. This could be a chance for a lot of you to make some contacts too.”

“We’ll be doing this for Mr Williams.” I replied, shrugging.

I made my way to the door before remembering. “Chris!”

“Yes?”

“You don’t have to answer now, but Melissa and I have a friend who has this huge competition coming up. It’s in New York and we were hoping to go, maybe you could give us permission?”

Chris bit his lip, thinking about this. “Come back to me a week before it’s on and I’ll see.” He finished.

I nodded my head before exiting his office.I had already picked the song that we were going to sing. A song that would probably mean a lot to everyone who was down in the basement the night Mr Williams had his stroke. How to save a life.


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