Chapter Twenty-One - Fight Night
You know how some people say how amazing it would be to have two hot guys fight over you?
I have to say that… when it really happens, it isn’t that enjoyable.
I screamed as Cole punched Matt square in the jaw, knocking him back several steps.
I ran forward and seized Cole’s sleeve just as he drew his fist back to land another blow. Matt’s blood already flecked his knuckles, and my stomach flipped.
“Grace, move out of the way,” he ground out, pushing me gently to the side. “I don’t want you getting hurt.”
“Stop this!” I screamed. “Don’t do this! Please… just stop.”
Cole ignored me and turned back to Matt, who grabbed Cole’s lapels and pulled him down on the ground.
I froze in shock as I watched Matt give Cole a pretty impressive right hook and Cole retaliated with a very dirty cheap shot in a place that I imagine no guy really appreciates being kneed in.
Matt gasped for air, but pushed against Cole’s chest and kicked his stomach, effectively winding him.
I stepped forward to intervene, but jumped back as they grabbed each other’s collars and began to roll down the slope slowly, trying in vain to punch each other.
They both seemed pretty evenly matched, which surprised me. Cole, being a Bad Boy, was notorious for getting into fights, but I had always envisioned Matt as this humble, peaceful guy who had never fought like this.
I couldn’t believe they were fighting over me. I mean, they had always been friends. Hell, they played on the same football team. They went to parties together and five days ago they had been sitting on my couch, chatting and sharing chips at my house. How had things changed so much so soon?
Not to mention how awful I felt for doing this to them.
Was I really standing here contemplating life while I watched my friends fight? Really, Grace, you need to get your head straight.
I jumped forward, trying to pull one off the other, but there was just a mess of tangled limbs. Blood was coating the grass surrounding us, and I tried pulling what I thought was Matt off Cole.
I turned around, knowing there was no way I could possibly disentangle the two alone.
I waved my arms when I spotted Annie walking with her twin brother, Grayson, and his friend, Zak.
They all stared up at me in confusion, when I called out, “Help me! Help me, please.”
I wondered what Annie, Grayson and Zak were doing walking across the football field when I remembered we were right next to the carpark, and Grayson and Zak normally stayed after school doing extra football practice. Sometimes Annie stayed back, too, since Grayson and Annie shared a car. That was only if she didn’t feel like walking and couldn’t get a lift from me.
Now I was grateful for her laziness.
I turned back around to assess the fight happening around us and gulped at the sight.
Matt was on top of Cole, straddling his waist as he aimed punch after punch at his face.
I tried calling his name, but Matt didn’t seem able to hear me. Blood dripped from the corner of his mouth and he yelled at Cole, each word accompanied by another punch. Cole was trying to fend off Matt, but he was pretty weak and bloody.
“You… bastard,” Matt ground out angrily. “She… deserves… better… than you.”
I spun around to see Grayson, Zak and Annie two-thirds of the way to us.
“Hurry!” I called. “Please… hurry.”
I spun around to see Cole had managed to get Matt off, and was pushing him away, but Matt had more energy than Cole, and was upon him within seconds.
When the trio reached us, the boys wasted no time in jumping into the fray.
Annie looked in horror at Cole and Matt, her face pale and eyes like saucers.
Grayson hooked his arms under Matt’s armpits and hoisted him up and away with surprising strength. Matt struggled against him, but eventually went limp, as the fight left his body. But Grayson held onto him just in case.
Cole took this to his advantage and jumped up, making his way towards Matt angrily, but Zak followed Grayson’s moves and held him back.
Matt snarled at Cole, and Grayson shook him angrily. “Dude, what are you doing?” he said quietly, looking down at Matt with an ashamed look in his eye. “He’s your friend.”
“‘Friend?’” he spat out mockingly. “Is that what you call him? He’s not much of a friend, then.”
Cole grunted, struggling a little in Zak’s arms. “That hurts, man.”
“Good,” Zak said, though he sounded regretful. “Maybe that’ll teach you a lesson.”
“Look, we need to separate them,” Annie piped in. “There’s no use keeping them together.”
“I think you should go to the hospital,” I said. “You’re both looking worse for wear.”
And it was true. They looked - and most likely felt - like crap. Cole’s hair was matted with blood and pasted to his head with sweat. His knuckles were still smeared in blood, which made my stomach clench. Blood dripped from his nose, but it didn’t look broken. He was breathing heavily, and there was a cut above his eyebrow, and his eye was beginning to bruise and swell shut.
Matt had dried blood crusting the corner of his mouth. His jaw was beginning to darken from numerous hits, and there was blood dripping from a gash near his temple, though it didn’t look deep.
“No hospitals,” Cole muttered pleadingly. “Please.”
Annie sighed and nodded. “OK, alright. Come back to my place, I’ve got a first aid kit and I can clean you up. I’ll drive you back in your car.” She paused. “Please tell me today you bought the car and not the bike. Because you’re in no condition to drive the bike, and I don’t have a license.”
He nodded. “Yeah, I brought the car.”
Satisfied, she smiled. “OK, good. Matt, do you need to go to hospital?”
He shook his head. “No. I’m fine.”
“Well, you can’t drive in your condition…”
“I’ll drive him back,” Zak offered. “We live close so it’s no biggie. Plus, he didn’t bring his car today and he can’t walk home like this.”
“I’d help, but I have to meet up with Cyndi,” Grayson said. Cyndi was his model-pretty girlfriend. “I was gonna drop Annie home, but if you’re taking Cole’s car…”
“I am. I’ll take him home, drop him back and then maybe you can pick me up on the way back?” Annie asked Grayson.
“Sounds good. Just text me when you drop Cole and his car back and Cyndi and l will come get you.”
She nodded, while I stood there completely useless, even though I was the reason this all happened. “Anything I can do?” I asked hopefully.
Annie looked at me with a sorry look in her eyes that read: “I’m so sorry for everything that happened recently and I hope we can still be best friends.’ “Sorry, Grace. I think we’ve got it all covered. Can I talk to you for a sec?”
I nodded and followed her to a tree. She quickly hugged me before I even had time to process anything. “I’m sorry we haven’t spoken much but it was just because of Matt. Please don’t be mad.”
“It’s OK,” I reassured her. “I’m sorry about how everything happened. Can we still be best friends?”
She grinned. “Of course.”
We hugged again before she leaned back and looked at me curiously. “I know we don’t have time now, but I hope you know that I’m calling you tonight for the details.”
I nodded. “I know. You should probably get going. I’m sorry for everything again, Annie.”
She waved it away. “Don’t even worry about it. Bye, Grace!”
She walked back over to Cole, whispered something to him and then he wrapped his arm around her shoulders, leaning against her for support, before they started to walk towards the car-park.
Grayson waved goodbye, released Matt, and then followed closely behind Annie and Cole, probably to make sure his twin didn’t collapse under the weight of a muscular, buff football player.
Zak quickly went off to make a phone call, which left me alone with Matt. I shifted awkwardly from foot-to-foot. I could almost see the tension in the air.
“Thanks for stepping in, Matt,” I said quietly, eyes downcast.
“Don’t mention it.” His voice was cold, emotionless.
“You sure you don’t need a hospital?”
“I’m fine, Grace. Thank you,” he added as an afterthought.
He started to walk off.
“Wait, that’s all you’re going to say?” I asked incredulously.
“What else is there to say, Grace?”
“I don’t… I don’t know. But after everything you said the other night and today…” I kicked a stone angrily, and it skittered across the ground.
“I said everything I had to say, Grace. I don’t know what else you want me to do. The ball’s kind of in your court now.”
I breathed out. “I don’t… I don’t know what to say either. I just… I hate this rift between us. Can’t we just be friends?”
“After everything I told you, you honestly think I can just revert back to being friends? Grace, I basically put my heart on a platter for you, and you sent it back. I feel like we never talk anymore.”
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” I admitted, my voice coming out in a whisper.
“Well, maybe that’s the point,” he said.
Just then Zak disconnected the call. “You ready to go, man?”
Matt nodded. “Yeah, man, let’s go.”
I watched them disappear from sight as snow began to fall around us.
I hadn’t even noticed lately how much colder it had been getting, but now it was early December, it was blatantly obvious.
A tear slipped down my cheek. All of my friends had left and here I stood in a cold, snowy football field, abandoned.
I had never felt so alone.