Kai's POV - Chapter 6
“What do you mean she left?!” The urge to punch Connor almost took over me the moment I heard the shocking news. Astrid was gone.
“She just... she found out about the bet,” her brother tried to explain, with tears in his eyes. “She was hurt, Kai. I told you this would happen. We should’ve given her a heads up.”
“Of course she was hurt! I was the one who wanted to tell her in the first place!” I yelled at Connor but mostly, I felt the need to break something. Anything. Astrid was gone? I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I ran a hand through my hair and sat down on the bed in my bedroom.
Where did she go? Why didn’t she stay and talk to me? Or anyone? Why leave?
“She’s not coming back,” Connor told me. “Mom said she had an airplane to catch. She’s transferring schools.”
There were so many questions going through my head but guilt spread as I knew what a huge mistake we all made. And I was a part of it. I knew how much this was going to affect her yet I didn’t try hard enough to do the right thing.
“She left,” he told me as the truth started to sink in with gut-wrenching feeling I didn’t know how to get rid of.
Our friends were downstairs. I wasn’t certain if they had any idea what they did but it was clear who to blame for this. I stood up and made my way downstairs before Connor could stop me in my track. I didn’t stop when they came into view. I didn’t stop when I stepped in front of him. And I didn’t stop hitting Matt Jackson, the prick who thought it would be a great idea to make Astrid’s life into a joke for their own entertainment. Before I knew what was happening, my fist was up in the air, Matt was lying on the floor with his nose bleeding and the rest of the group trying to get me off him.
“Kai!” Mason shouted. Some guys tried to grab me but I shook them off. “What do you think you’re doing?”
I got off Matt and stood up, letting him deal with the pain. I felt rage burn inside me. Rage that made my vision turn white.
“It’s your fault she left. Both of you are responsible for hurting a girl who’s been hurt more times than she deserved. Yes, I may have punched this asshole,” I spat at Matt who glared at me. “And that was on me. But hurting Astrid, that’s on you.”
“Whoa, dude, what are you talking about?” Beck asked and they all looked confused. They didn’t know. I turned to Connor who shrugged sadly.
“You were the first person I told.”
“Wait, what’s going on?” Shaun Terrace asked.
“Astrid found out about the bet.” Connor sighed.
“What the fuck? How did she find out?” Matt spoke and it took all of my willpower not to punch him again. He didn’t even care about her.
“She forced me to tell her,” Connor said.
“Oh you did not! You know what the consequences are, Bailey!” Mason spat at him. Mason was in a school gang that had contacts in important places. If anyone were to tell her the truth, they’d get set up and have their reputation destroyed.
I worked hard all my life. In school, at home, after school. My sister Hannah always told me to finish school, get my education and to not ruin my life. True, the blackmail may seem like a childish thing but we all knew what Mason’s gang could do. They once bullied a kid into jumping from our school’s roof as part of their initiation. If the kid survived, he was in. But if he didn’t jump, his father would lose his position at the school.
Despite Evergreen’s perky reputation, the school had a problem with their students and their behavior.
But the blackmail still didn’t mean I couldn’t interfere and shield her from harm. I tried to protect Astrid, I really did. The only way I could get her to trust me was if she fell in love with me. Little did I know, I started falling for her sooner than she started to even like me.
I didn’t want her to get hurt yet that was exactly what happened.
Connor turned from blue, green to red in a matter of nanoseconds. “Do you think I care? I don’t fucking care! I just want my damn sister back! She left. She left because of that stupid god damn bet!”
His shouts echoed all over the house and a silence followed. I didn’t know whether Mason was going to ruin Connor like he threatened, but I didn’t give a shit. I didn’t even know how Mason kept being a dick yet keeping his friends.
“Connor-” Matt tried to put a hand - one that wasn’t covered in blood - on his shoulder. Connor was almost crying. I had never seen him this upset. I had never seen him care this much. There were only two bad guys in this situation and those were Mason and Matt.
“Don’t,” Connor shook off his hand. “Don’t talk to me ever again.”
With that, he left my house with the door wide open. I didn’t know where he went but it wasn’t like I cared either. I just wanted to be left alone.
“Everyone get out,” I ordered. Slowly, they all picked up their things and left. Finally, I was left in peace waiting for the reality to truly sink in.
I didn’t know where my girlfriend was - if she was okay. I wanted nothing more than to hold her, cry with her and be there for her. But I knew about the bet all along and she was rightfully angry.
I didn’t have the right to go after her, to make any excuses because that’s what they were. Excuses. Although my heart told me to ask Connor for her location and book the first flight available, my brain wouldn’t listen. Astrid needed some time due to what we did. If we didn’t respect her before, we should at least respect her decision to leave this place.
I ended up taking a bottle of whiskey up to the bathroom with me as I drank into oblivion. I drank, remembering every detail about her. I drank and imagined her beautiful hair. The way she smelled that was so intoxicating or her cute smile. Her smile made me feel special because she let me see it. She was so fragile yet so good at the same time. I loved her. It made me mad that she would just pick up and leave. Without even saying goodbye. But I knew I didn’t have any right to feel anything. She was hurt because I lied to her. Because we all did. Even her two best friends.
And I could only imagine what kind of pain we had all caused her. It was our fault. Going through the pictures on my phone, I felt the regret wash over me and I drank some more
The word beauty didn’t even describe Astrid. She was far more than that. As a person, she was smart and funny. She made me laugh with her occasional blushes and her excitement over books.
A tear fell down my cheek.
As I ws nearing the end of the bottle, I felt the alcohol taking over, giving me the courage to call her phone.
I tapped the call button and waited for it to ring. I faintly noticed her voicemail picking up. After the beep, I spoke. My words had trouble coming out but I needed it to be said. Even if she didn’t listen to it. There was a 90 percent chance she wouldn’t. I knew how she was whenever someone upset her. She shut everybody out.
“Hi,” I started. my voice full of remorse. “I know I’m probably the last person you want to hear from and I get that. I should have told you about the bet from the start. And I don’t have a reason that would justify what I did or what everyone else did. But I want you to know that I’m sorry. I truly, really am sorry, Astrid. I tried to protect you from the truth but I ended up hurting you in the end. I hope that some day, you find it in you to forgive me. I really hope you’ll call me and let me at least tell you how this all happened. You deserve to know the truth.”
I would have said more but I ran out of time. So I decided to text her pretty much the same thing. I was a complete and utter mess. I didn’t deserve her. It was selfish of me to even think that. I should’ve been grateful for the time we had instead of just throwing it away.
I copied the text message and pasted it on Facebook in her messages.
Hoping she’ll see it here at least. And I hoped the message was clear because I could hardly type.
Next morning, a text message woke me up. I was missing my fourth period and I already missed lunch but I didn’t give a fuck. I wanted to lie in bed but knew it was impossible. Whoever texted me was persistent. There were four more messages from my friends that followed.
The first one I opened was from Connor.
Mason managed to get me kicked off the team and suspended for three weeks. Not that you should care. Just thought you should know you’re the new team captain.
What the fuck? How did that happen? Was this for real? I knew Connor was wrong not to tell Astrid but he didn’t deserve this. He was probably one of the few guys who actually regretted his decision.
Mason seriously needed some ass kicking.
JJ Walker texted me.
Dude, you missed English. Your girlfriend’s best friends had an explosive argument. Diana and Adelaide were fighting about Astrid with Delilah. She said they were two plastic bitches and then keyed their car during lunch. Apparently, she didn’t know about the bet and was disgusted when she heard Diana and Adelaide knew.
I didn’t bother to reply. Chester Kane’s text was the next I read.
Mason got suspended because he started a fight with Connor even though Connor punched him first. Of course, everyone sided with Connor saying Mason started it and Mason’s fucking furious
My Mom gave me an update on Hannah.
Your sister’s treatment was somewhat successful but she’s extremely tired. I’m afraid your father and I won’t be home tonight. We’ll arrive tomorrow.
Hunter Riley was the last one of my friends who texted me and he was also the one who managed to get me out of bed for the day.
What’s with everyone today? You’re missing, Connor’s all emotional, got accused of taking drugs and Mason’s freaking suspended. Not to mention Delilah wants your head on a stick. Come to school and fucking deal with this mess already.
I didn’t want to, but I knew he was right.
Damn, one day gone and all hell breaks loose.