26 | The Troubles With Bree
Max and I made it back to LA just in time for the dinner. We both stumbled into the restaurant, apologizing to our parents who only gave us amused looks. Its been no secret that my parents always liked us together. Many times they have hinted for us to marry.
They were absolutely shocked when we split. My mother especially, who demanded to know what was wrong. When I refused to tell her, she practically begged me to give Max a second chance.
“So, where did you two go?” Max’s mom, Callie, asked. She is an awfully sweet lady, who always had a smile on her face. Her brown eyes—that are the same color as Max’s—twinkle in delight.
“To the beach,” I answer, smiling.
Callie then flings her arms around me from her seat next to me. Briefly, I close my eyes and melt in her sweet, cinnamon scent. Callie is one of the many things I missed when I left Max.
“How are you, sweetie?” She murmurs.
Smiling when Callie pulls away, I answer her. “Alright. I missed you though.”
Callie puts a hand on her heart, giving me a flattering look. “I’m touched Ava, I really am. I knew I loved you for a reason.”
I laugh loudly at that, throwing my head back. Max catches my eye, noticing my enthusiasm. He stops his conversation with my parents and simply stares at me. Events like this were something we used to love. It bonded us closer together, strengthen our relationship.
“How’s school going Ava?” Max’s dad, Julian, asks me with interest.
And so that’s how the evening goes - with me catching up with Max’s parents and him doing the same with our parents. After we ate the delicious and divine meal, Max and I leave, letting our parents catch up more and make arrangements for the future. Max leads me to his car and politely opens his door, mock bowing. I laugh, rolling my eyes.
The car journey, once again, is spent with us singing and bouncing in our seats to songs.
Eventually, Max pulls up to my house. I suck in a breath and stare at it for a second. This could be the last time Max and I have a moment like this. Everything is going to change - I can feel it. I’m terrified that I will never see him again, I will never have moments like this again but I’m also excited about the future. The very prospect of graduating is chillingly extravagant.
I turn my face back to Max, observing him. His face, his eyes, say the same as mine does. But we both know, we both realized, that we have our lives ahead of us and we need to discover things alone.
Suddenly, I hug Max. His arms instantly wrap around my form, bringing me closer to him. I nestle my head into his neck and breathe in his masculine scent. Max tightens his grip on me when he realizes what I’m doing.
Reluctantly, I pull away from him. My body yearns for his but I ignore it. Instead, I listen to that rational voice in my head. My right-hand moves to the door handle, whilst I stay focused on Max. We stare at each other like this is our last meeting, that this is our last time together.
“You’re amazing. Remember that.” I say and get out of the car, lifting my bag up in the process. Slamming the door shut, I march up to my house, feeling his eyes on me.
I don’t turn back.
On Monday, the first day of Max and I was separated but were still close to each other, I searched for Bree. Its about time the mess with Harry was sorted. Bree is slowly beginning to worm her way into my heart; the very thought of her hurt makes me mad to no end. So I want to help her sort things out with Harry.
I finally managed to locate Bree, in the bathrooms. Walking in, I stand next to her, facing the mirror. My face—my blue eyes, pale, heart-shaped face stares back at me. Once upon a time, not too long ago, I found myself very insecure about how I looked. I still do—we all do. But knowing I can be loved not only by my looks but my personality, gives me a boost of confidence.
“I’ve been looking everywhere for you,” I say, watching her fix her hair through the mirror.
Bree’s green eyes flicker to mine through the mirror, with a hint of nervousness and then they move back to her own reflection. She weaves her fingers through her red locks, letting her curls bounce when she’s finished.
“And I was looking for you,” Bree replies.
I blink. “What?”
Bree rolls her eyes and turns to face me, putting her hand on the counter. “At the party. Last I remember, Molly got wasted and you went off. I think I caught you kissing some guy and then letting Max lead you up to a room but that’s it. You totally ditched me.”
My mouth opens in understanding and I flash her a sympathetic smile. I completely forgot about Bree at the party. I got so upset with myself that I didn’t think about who was looking after her. I just assumed that since the boys were looking after Molly, they would look after her too.
“Oh gosh, I’m so sorry. I was so wasted, I literally had a break down in front of Max.” I rush out. “I hope you were alright. And I hope you can forgive me.”
Bree scrutinizes me for a second, enjoying the fact that I’m feeling guilty. Maybe this is her way of teaching me a lesson. I have been a bad friend lately. I have been prioritizing Max. But now I’m going to focus more on my friends. I’m going to help Bree with Harry and I’m going to get Molly to open up more. She’s an amazing person and she needs to see it.
“Of course I can forgive you.” She finally says and pulls me in for a hug. “Just don’t ditch me again.”
“Never,” I whisper into her ear, squeezing her shoulders.
The bell rings loudly, announcing the start of lessons. Groaning, I trudge my way to my first lesson with Molly. I can’t believe its Monday—the worst day of the week.
At lunch today, the group notices a shift in the atmosphere. And I’m not just meaning because Harry and Bree are glaring at each other but because Max isn’t here. None of picked up the courage to ask me yet but I know they are all dying to.
I think Luke has worked it out because he whispered to Lawrence: “I think she’s back in the market.”
He received a slap on the head for that.
“Okay, where on earth is Max?” Josh is the first to ask the question. He avoids looking in Bree and Harry’s direction, sensing some sort of sexual tension. The two of them were good at hiding it for a while but now it’s just obvious.
Sighing, I dump my fork in my salad. “Max and I have come to an agreement. Not that friendship agreement but a new one. We both know that we need time to enjoy ourselves this year and focus on studying. He needs to find out what he wants like I do so we are...well...having a break from the friendship.”
Nobody says a word. I had expected this though.
“And how are you feeling about this?” Molly asks me, in a soft tone. She gives me a warm smile and slings a reassuring arm over my shoulder. I admit, having the moral support feels nice.
I wonder how Rosie would react to the news...if only she would talk to me.
“I’m okay with it. We both agreed to it. Perhaps this is for the best. Not everyone’s first love is their true love.” I answer, noting how Bree and Harry both shuffle in their seats at my words.
Molly nods her head, seeing my point of view. Lawrence smiles, Luke gives me his trademark smirk and Josh bumps my shoulder.
“Now that that’s sorted.” Lawrence clears his throat and turns to the two people at the end of our table. “What is going on with you two?”
Harry and Bree both snap their necks to Lawrence, their eyes widening. They both look like two deers caught in headlights.
“Oh—uh.” Bree splutters. To try and distract all of the attention from her, she begins brushing her hair behind her ear whilst giving Harry pointed looks. Poor Harry looks clueless on where to start or what to say.
“So what exactly happened at that party last Friday?” I ask, saving the two of them from embarrassment. Taking the bait, Luke begins to reiterate the night—well, his experience of the night.
Whilst pretending to listen to him, I give Bree a wink when she sends me a thankful look.
After lunch, I walk with Bree to her next lesson, hoping she will update me on her and Harry. A massive part of me wants them to just admit that they love each other and get together. But that would be hypocritical of me.
I now know it’s not as simple as that.
“Do you know what I think you two should do?” I ask, swinging my arms back and forth. At one point, I accidentally hit a boy. Whilst apologizing, he gives me a scowl and marches off. Oops? Bree gives me a side glance, encouraging me to continue. ”Talk to him!”
It’s the most logical and most obvious thing to do. Bree is scared - I understand that. But she needs to face her fears and talk to him. Sitting down, having a coffee, talking about their fears will mean they can solve all of their problems.
“I—I” She stutters. “I—”
“Yeah, no.” I interrupt her. “Talking to Max basically cleared up everything. We both know what we have to do now. Just do it.”
Bree clamps her mouth shut and spins on her heel, off to find Harry.