There’s only so much than can describe Ouray in fall. The joy in my chest when I step and hear the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet. The chilled air that forces me to wear long sleeves with my t-shirts. Or even rushing to get home after a long shift at the end of the night because I forgot my coat again. The way the town looks with the leave turning shades of red and yellow then every shade in between I've never seen a sight more beautiful than Ouray in late November. That's saying a lot considering I've been to many places.
"Babe," I turned finding Ryder behind me," When do we have to go?" He asked as he pulled up his pants and buttoning them. I turned back to the stove finishing up the eggs. I felt as my body shook with nerves. Because before we could go pick up my best friend...he had to know the truth or he'd figure it out sooner or later with Peyton around. After finding out his parents watch her show I knew then I'd have to tell him the truth. I've put it off long enough.
By long enough, I mean the very last most possible last moment. "Soon," I moved the eggs over to a plate. "We have just enough time to eat before we go pick up Peyton."
"I'm excited to see her. If she's anything like you I know I'll love her."He stepped closer wrapping his arms around my waist. "You okay? You're not usually this quiet." I turned off the stove and turned to Ryder.
"I'm okay...but we need to talk." I walked with him, plates of food in both hands, before setting them down on the table. He took one seat and I took the other. I reconized the look and quickly put his hand in mine. "It's nothing bad I promise."
"Then what is it? You don't want to end things-"
"No!" I stood and stepped over sitting in his lap pressing my forehead to his. "No...Ryder, you're the best thing that's ever happened to me." I pulled away running my fingers over his face memorizing every freckle on his tanned skin. The scar of his cheek from a fight he got into on his first day of high school. "This is about me...the real me."
"Briana isn't my real name." I felt as my heart fluttered. "My real name is Phoebe...Phoebe Clover." I watched as his eyes flutter and thought back.
"Wait you're saying," I pulled out my phone and found the article I had screenshot the night before and handed him the phone. He looked between me and the photo.
"My father is abusive, my stepmother isn't any better either. I couldn't take it anymore so I ran. Peyton helped me. She's been covering saying she has no idea what happened to me or where I am. Truth is she's the only one who's ever known the truth. I changed my hair, changed the way I looked, and no one noticed. The day I got to Ouray, changed everything." I held him closer to me matching my breath to his. "You changed me."
"I would have kept this secret. I'd do anything that'd make you be happy and stay here with me." He moved me so I stood and he looked down at me. "I can protect you."
"Not from my father. He's not an easy man. He's...manipulative and controlling. Living in LA I also know money can buy almost anything. I don't know what he'd do if he found me here, especilly with you."
"Is that why you didn't tell me?"
"No...Honestly, I wanted to be Bri. I want to just be a normal girl, from a random place, who just wanted a fresh start. I didn't ask to be Phoebe Clover. After a little while...I felt I was. I mean I've been her for a while its the character I played of the TV for a couple years, but I mean this version of her. Where I'm not as important as Phoebe Clover."
"Bri..."He wrapped his arms around me. "As long as your with me, and even if you weren't, I'm going to everything I can to make sure you are whoever you want to be."
After a long hug, we just packed up the food before getting in my car. Ryder drove while I sat passenger ready for the long drive. When he asked a question I answered. Even promised to watch The Space Between with him. Oddly enough I'm interested to see how they've covered for Briana seeing as the show was all about her and her gift to see ghost. Without me, they could have done so many things or even just stopped the show. Honestly, I didn't want to know. That cast and crew were like a second family to me. Seeing everyone on the screen instead of in person changes things. I miss them.
But bing watching two and a half seasons of a show would be in between working and being with Peyton. Then finding the timing cover for Peyton not being at Ryder's family's thanksgiving. His family watches her show, they'd recognize her instantly.
As we got closer to the airport Peyton texted me letting me know she'd landed and would be out of luggage soon. Also letting me know she's in a grey beanie and sunglasses to hide herself. Apparently the only way to get to the airport to avoid pictures being taken. All eyes on her since my disappearance.
Ryder showed no nerves as we pulled up to the pick up line. Once the car stopped moving I jumped out and looked all down the sidewalk waiting to see the person who's been by my side since childhood.
"Bri!" I turned seeing her hand waving in the air near the end door. I sprinted faster than I had ever tried to run before. I jumped passed people until I close enough jumping onto her. Together we fell to the ground laughing my arms and legs still wrapped around her.
"You human wreaking ball." I looked at Ryder, "How am I supposed to meet if you nearly kill her first?"
"Please, I'm invincible." I laughed at Peyton until Ryder helped us both up. I finally let go and looked between the two people I loved the most.
"Well, Peyton this is Ryder. Ryder, this is Peyton." I watched as she brought him into a hug surprising him until she pulled away showing his smile.
"Finally happy to meet the boy who's keeping my girl company. But before we start all that As best friend, rules say-"
"If I hurt her you'll castrate, kill, or ruin me?"
"I was going to say obligated to create a witty banter with me so we can drive Bri here crazy with our new and improving bonding friendship." She smiled back at me sweetly before return her look to Ryder. "But yeah. It's in the rule book."
"I've made it my job to know the rule book, makes it easier to find ways to buy pass rules."
"Oh I love him already." I rolled my eyes and grabbed her bag.
"Come on you two, We've got to get back and to his parent's house for Thanksgiving. We can chat before we enter our food comas."
"Good thing we have alot to actually be thankful about this year. You being safe and happy the most important one of all."I slid my free hand in Peytons and looked as she smiled at me. "I'm really happy to see you."