We got to the house after me spilling everything about the meeting with Principle Jacobs. Bryce called our dad to come home. He led me into my bed and left the room only to get more tissues for me. He came back and laid down next to me.
“I’m so sorry…” he hugged me to him. I sniffled a cry again. My phone was suddenly buzzing on my nightstand. Bryce took the liberty to grab it and look at it.
“Its Hendrix, you wanna talk to him?”
I shook my head so he answered the phone for me.
“Hey man its Bryce…” “Na uh she’s not doing good.” “It’s a long story bro.” “That’ll be up to her to tell.” “Thanks Man, yeah I’ll tell her you called.” He hung up.
“He wanted to know what happened and if you needed anything, and to tell you he’s here for you if you need him.”
I huffed. I knew everyone was just being nice. “I know he is.” I buried my head in my pillow.
“I wont ask whats going on between you two. " He said patting my arm.
My dad appeared in the doorway and took in the scene around him. I knew he was going to either be pissed off or very caring. I sat up and to my surprise he came right over and hugged me against him.
“Oh my little sweetpea, I’m so sorry..” he was kissing my head and rubbing my head at this point. I was numb, I think I cried all my water out of my body. “I didn’t think they would dig up the past like that. I will have a word with principle Jacobs tomorrow.”
I just nodded and laid back down with Bryce. My dad held my hand. “Do you need anything?”
I shook my head. He motioned for Bryce to join him outside my room. They both took off after kissing and hugging on me way too much. I can say this, I have the men of the year around me. It was right then though that I wished my mom was around. I wish I had someone to give me boy advice, to let me cry my eyes out around them and they would know exactly how to calm me. My dad and brother were doing their best but they didn’t know women like women know other women. Great, now I’m adding on heartbreak with heartbreak.
I turned to my side and grabbed my pillow to my stomach. I decided to reach for my phone and look at it. Harley texted me and asked how I was and if she needed to bring ice cream over, I laughed at her a bit and replied.
‘not right now, but ice cream date soon.’
I smiled. I had something good here. But then the constant memory of Sam’s life ending too short haunts me everyday of my life. She should be here, not me.
I looked at my phone to see a text from Hendrix.
‘I don’t know what your going through, but I’m here for you.’
I sighed. I had a lot of secrets to my past. I had a lot of issues. But Hendrix was really trying. I didn’t see what Axel was saying as a bad person. I only saw that he is trying to be here for me in this moment.
‘It’s a really long story and not a good one.’
‘When your ready, I’m here.’
I smiled to myself and turned back on my bed laying down. Again, on cue my brother walked into my room and sat down on the foot of my bed staring off into space. I could tell him and dad had a big and hard talk.
“Dad wants me to quit football..”
I sat up super fast. “WHAT NO! Bry, that’s your life!”
He turned around and stared at me. “Yeah well…” He shrugged a bit, I could tell he was still processing.
“I’ll talk to dad. “ I swung my legs over the bed and stood up, limping to the door.
“Thanks Ott.” He smiled at me.
I limped down the stairs to see my dad sitting on the living room chair, staring at his phone. I tiptoed up to him as best I could and sat down in the couch next to him.
“I know what you’re going to say and I know I’m being too harsh on him.”
“He wasn’t responsible for what happened and I’ve told you that so many times..” I spat out not even thinking.
He shot a look at me then back to his phone. “You don’t need to be the adult here Autumn.”
I sighed. “Dad, Bryce deserves a life of his own and not to sit and worry about me constantly. That’s all he’s done since we got to that school. Can you please just let him have that?”
My dad stood up, but right after he did his radio went off. “Copy that.”
“Look sweetpea, We’ll talk about this later.” He grabbed his belt and gun and left the house without another word. I knew he was on call. I was very used to him up and leaving the house.
I went upstairs and noticed Bryce went into his own bedroom. That was rare. I went into mine and grabbed my phone as I heard Bryce’s door slam.
I popped my head out to see him with headphones and work out gear on. He ran down the stairs and out the front door. My hell. There he went again, taking it out on himself by working out way too hard. Maybe that was his own stress relief. I couldn’t help but to think I was such a burden to him.
I looked down at my phone just as a text from Hendrix came in.
‘Practice is over. Can I stop by your place?’
I thought for a moment. Bryce was out and god knows when he comes back. My dad is out on a call. It was as good of time as any to let Hendrix in on my issues.
‘yes.’ And sent him my address. Even know I think he knew I lived next to Ryder.
I limped down the stairs to get another ice pack and went out the front door to the porch and sat down in a rocking chair. I set the ice on my hip and leaned my head back, rocking back and forth.
I was there for a few minutes before hearing a vehicle pull up. I opened my eyes to see Hendrix getting out of a Ford Raptor. I had to hold my breath for a moment. Whoa, did Hendrix’s family have major money or something? Those things were at least $80,000 dollars..
I smiled when he came up the pathway and took off his sunglasses when he reached the porch and looked at me and smiled back.
“I’m glad to see you outside.” He walked over and sat down in the chair next to mine.
“I’m not allowed outside when I have a bad day?” I rose an eyebrow at him, in super serious mode trying to see what he did.
He smirked and laughed a bit. “No no, I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Uh huhhhh.” I smiled at him and he realized I was just kidding around with him. The sarcastic side of me never goes away.
“So… you wanna talk about it?” he turned super serious on me at the drop of a dime. I sighed. I didn’t really know what he wanted to hear, what he thinks is wrong.
“Tell you what, you tell me why Evie’s so obsessed with you and then I’ll tell you.” I hugged my knees to my chest and leaned in his direction. I wanted something to ease my mind for once.
He was staring at me with a puzzled look, then a look of him being in deep thought. He shifted his weight then turned his body towards me.
“I’ll put in simple terms. Me, Ryder and Carter all grew up together. I’ve dealt with Adrian since we were little. We tried dating in middle school but that just didn’t happen.. cause its Adrian.” He made a face and rolled his eyes at me, which made me smile a bit.
“Evie moved here in sophomore year. Her and Adrian became best friends. I was always at Ryder’s house or his at mine so Evie naturally started liking Ryder at first but then Adrian said her brother was off limits, so she moved on to me last year.”
He leaned back a bit. “Evie used to be normal. She used to be a cute girl. We dated for a few months but then her parents went through a nasty divorce. Her brother left home, her sisters are crazy like her too. After that she went insane. She wouldn’t let me out of her sight, she wouldn’t stop calling and texting me. She got completely obsessed. So I broke it off with her. She told me at the beginning of this school year that she would tell everyone I broke it off because she was pregnant. “
I took in a sharp breath, which he noticed and shook his head at me.
“It wasn’t true. She was trying to blackmail me into getting back together with her. But in the end I just waited it out. She hasn’t moved on to her next target yet.. and then you showed up and I’m sure she had some evil plan in her mind on how to win me back ..” he quoted with his fingers.
“That sounds exciting.” I added.
He laughed a bit. “Oh I’m sure it was. But I’m not having any of it. She’s not someone you’d want to bring home to your mother and say your dating her. I might be tossed out of the house if that happens..” he smiled.
“What does your parents do anyway?” I asked just staring at him.
“Ah, well… “ he drifted for a bit. “My mom works at the newspaper as a reporter. My dad well..” he laughed a bit. “This is so funny, I’ve never had to explain who my dad is to anyone before, most people already know him.”
I rose a brow. “Come again?”
“My dad is the mayor.”
Well all that just made a hell of a lot of sense. He’s had it made for years.
“Ah, I see.”
“Says the blind man.” He smiled at me and we both laughed for a minute together.
“Where’s Bryce at?” he suddenly questioned out of no where.
“Oh he’s off running..” I motioned to the street with a wave of my hand. My brother was running of the guilt he felt, simply put but I couldn’t say that.
“Running? I mean I know we did laps today but Coach excused him from It..”
It got silent.
“I told you my story, now to yours.”
“You want my story?” I began rocking the chair back and forth, completely forgetting It was one for a while.
“Yep I sure do, I want to know everything.” He leaned back in the chair and smiled.
I laughed this time. “You asked for it.”
“I did now spill.” He added.
“Welll…. Its just me and Bryce and my dad. “
Hendrix suddenly moved his chair closer to mine and sat down, only inches from me now.
“Where’s your mom?”
“She died when I was 12, drunk driver. My dad didn’t do much of anything after she passed. They were highschool sweethearts you know.”
“I’m sorry to hear that..” His tone was low and soft.
“Anyway, my dad is the police chief here now.”
“Police chief Greene? Man I should’ve put two and two together faster. He came and met with my dad the other night.”
I rose a brow. When did my dad have time to go meet with Hendrix’s dad? That’s a question for another day.
“Yep, that’s him. We moved to get away from.. well.. stuff.”
I looked away. I really didn’t want to tell this story twice in one day. It was horrible to try to speak about the first time, I didn’t want to cry more and look like a complete weak link. I felt his hand on my leg. I looked up to see his face. It was so full of concern and warmth.
“You can tell me Autumn, I promise it wont leave this porch.” I trusted him.
I took a big long inhale. “To put it in simple terms. I got my best friend killed…”
His features went straight to confusion, when suddenly I heard footsteps coming up the front stairs. We both turned to see Bryce standing there, sweaty and winded. His ear buds were already out. Was he listening to us?
“Whatever she’s saying to you Hendrix. It’s not true. She was not responsible.”
I huffed a bit. Yes I was dammit. “Oh right, but you think you were so.. we’re at a cross road here.” I crossed my arms in a tizzy.
“Wait wait wait.” Hendrix stood up and walked to be facing me and next to Bryce.
“You both were involved?”
I shook my head. “No, Bryce is just carrying the guilt of all when is WAS NOT his fault at all. He was just his best friend.”
Anger appeared on Bryce’s face. “You don’t get it Ott. You never have. We both lost our best friend’s that day, but guess what? Mine did the killing of yours and he nearly killed you too!” He opened the front door and slammed it shut, running inside without another word.
I sighed. He didn’t understand I knew why he felt the way he did. But I didn’t understand why the blame was on him when he didn’t march in there and give Jared the Knife? He was responsible for his own actions.
Hendrix was looking at me with complete confusion and rightfully so.
“Short version.. My best friend Sam dated his best friend Jared. It was all great at first. But Jared went completely insane and obsessed. He ended up putting hands on Sam and I wasn’t having any of it. So, I approached him before our last football game and told him to back off and he didn’t take my threat very well..."
I stood up and hopped over to the railing and leaned on it next to Hendrix. He leaned back on it and was watching my face. I was playing with my hands at this point with nerves.
“He disappeared off the field and came and attacked me and Sam while we were cheering. He went after Sam first then when I tried to save Sam, he stabbed me.”
I leaned back a bit and lifted my hoodie to expose the scar. There was still a white disfigured line from my rib cage down about four inches. Hendrix’s eyes went wide as he stared at the scar.
“Two surgeries later and I was awake. Sam though, never made it off the field.” I tear left my eyes as I slid my hoodie back down.
Hendrix caught my hand and lifted it to meet his at the railing and set them on it, while turning into my body. My body met his motion and turned towards him as well.
“You did not kill Sam. You..” he lifted his other hand and placed it on my cheek. “Were the best friend you were supposed to be and stuck up for her. “
I blinked and stared up at him. Holding back now even more tears.
“I know your Sass and your strength since I met you. You hold your ground and you don’t let other’s get pushed around either. That’s what I like about you.”
I smiled a bit and leaned my head a little more into his hand on my cheek. He just said he liked me. Butterflies started going in my stomach. I couldn't even grasp all the emotions going through me at this point.
He took his hand out of my hand and met his other hand on my other cheek, now cupping my face with both hands.
“That story just shows how amazing you are, you’re a survivor Autumn. Don’t you forget that.”
I grabbed his wrist and smiled. “You don’t need to be so nice to me Hendrix, you just met me and-“
He cut me off. “And nothin Autumn. You are special. I can see that. Everyone sees that.”
“Thank you.” I smiled up at him.
For a moment we stood and stared at each other then heard my father’s voice.
“Am I interrupting?”
We both jumped out of the slight embrace then Hendrix laughed a bit and held out his hand.
“Chief Greene? Hey I’m Tony Heart’s son, Hendrix.”
My father took his hand and shook it. “Oh yes yes. I remember seeing you for a bit. Nice to finally meet you son."
My dad’s face went to mine. “If you can excuse us, we have some family matters to discuss.”
“Of course sir.” Hendrix turned to me and mouthed. ‘call me later.’ And took off down the pathway to his truck on the street. He jumped in and waved at me when he drove off, I waved back.
My dad was still staring at me.
“What?!” I asked while slumping inside the house in a dramatic fashion.
“Bryce Patrick get down here now son!” My dad yelled upstairs.
I sat down on the couch when I heard Bryce’s door open and his foot steps coming down the stairs.
“Come in here.”
My dad sat down on a chair, still in uniform. That usually meant he was still on the clock and just stopped by to tend to the issue we were fighting about. I hope he came to his senses. Bryce came and sat down next to me on the couch.
“Listen you two. I know you went through hell last year. I know you both lost someone you loved in different ways. We have a new start here. You have new friends already.” He turned his head towards me and I knew what he was getting at.
“So, Lets try to leave the past in the past and not let it consume us.”
I nodded and so did Bryce. I would love to move on. But that would be a dishonor to Sam.
“Further more.” My dad cleared his throat. “I have decided to let both of you continue football and cheer.”
Me and Bryce went to celebrate. “BUT!” he cut in before we could.
“You must tell me when you get to practice and when you leave.” He looked at the two of us with a stern look.
“Yes dad.” “yeah pops.” We both said at the same time.
His walkie went off again about another call. For a small town there was a lot of crime happening.
“You two go get some dinner.” He handed Bryce his card. “And get to bed.”
He got up and out the door he went. My dad wasn’t one for goodbyes he hated them so he never said it.
Bryce held up the card. “You thinkin what I’m thinkin?”
“PIZZA!” we both screamed and laughed.