Autumn's Light

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Damage Is Done

Tuesday morning came. Bryce had decided he would not be going to school because he would kill Hendrix if he saw him and he was way too worked up to focus. I ended up calling Coach Kim and telling her I wanted off the squad. She didn’t argue with me when I told her why. I had no joy and no will to be happy for strangers right now. I didn't know when my dad would be better, but I didn't want Bryce to give up football. He had a chance of making it big time with it and I was not going to screw that up for him.

It was almost Halloween at this point. A month of being with Hendrix and it only took him a month to cheat on me. I must be a horrible girlfriend or just an easy target.

I decided to try to not stand out today, just pulling on black jogger pants and a black hoodie and pulling my hair into a French braid. Ryder came in the house around 7:15 and into my room.

“Come on sweet cheeks. You’re going to school with me.”

If anyone knew the pain I was going through it was Ryder. His girlfriend was involved too. He was hurting just like I was. Maybe not so intently because they just got together but heart break is heart break. We were kinder spirits right now. I owed it to myself to get back into something normal or I would end up doing something stupid. Trust me, ending my own life has crossed my mind many times in the last couple hours. I don’t think I have any tears left in me to cry anymore. I was pissed now.

We got in his car and off to school we went. It felt weird to be going back. But I wasn’t going to let some dick ruin my future. He could fuck right off. The bracelet he gave me was now in the garbage in my room. I had been wearing it everyday since he gave it to me, but not anymore.

Ryder turned to me as we were driving.

“You know the boys are behind us. Everyone is behind us. Don’t worry about being out casted. You did nothing wrong.”

I nodded at him as we pulled into a parking space. Heads were already turning to look at us. My heart started racing a mile a minute. Did everyone know? How many people actually knew the whole story? Ryder must have felt my anxiety from his seat and put his hand on mine.

“Don’t worry. We’ll get through this ok?”

I nodded at him, but my heart was still racing and pounding out of my chest. We got out and started walking towards the school. Half of me knew the looks was because of my dad being on the news and the other half about the Hendrix thing. Before I could freak out Ryder’s arm went around my shoulders.

“I got you.” I looked up to his smiling face. A sense of calm came over me. This guy. He was focused on healing me when he had healing to do too.

In the hallways I tried to keep my head down. We got to our first period and Ryder pulled his seat towards mine again. The teacher seemed to not mind. I was crumbled in a ball as much as I could be. Savannah came in and sat down behind me but also surprisingly Adrian came and sat down behind Ryder. Ryder shot her a look and she shrugged her shoulders. Apparently, this was a move of support and I appreciated it.

We got to Calculus and thank god Ryder had that class with me, but Hendrix was in that class too. If he showed his face at all. We reached class and I went and spoke with my teacher about changing seats. He agreed and partnered me and Ryder up in the back of the room. He started his lecture. No sign of Hendrix.

“I don’t think he’ll show his face for a while sweet cheeks.”

He half smiled at me as I tried to pay attention to what was being written on the board. My brain tried concentrating on the numbers. But they all seemed to just jumble up in my mind. I huffed in annoyance. My thoughts kept drifting to Hendrix. The memories kept flooding into me. The night he said he loved me hit me the hardest. How could you say that days before hooking up with someone else? And by someone else meaning my best friend?

Wait. Déjà vu.

I clutched my head in my hands. Tears were trying to form again and Ryder noticed putting his hand on my back rubbing it.

“Don’t Ott.. he’s not worth it.”

I was sniffling away the pain. I wish I could be numb. I’m drowning in silence right now.

The next bell rang and Ryder led me to my English class. Luckily Savannah was in this one with me and we sat down next to each other. She was such a support to me. She wasn’t avoiding owning which side she was on. She was on mine and very boldly.

Lunch came. This was the period I was dreading. Harley and Hazel were seen across the lunch room. I darted my eyes off them the second I saw them. I wanted nothing to do with Harley right now. My anger would get the better of me.

Sav and me got lunches and went outside. Sitting on a patch of grass covered by leaves. A storm was coming in but I loved the smell. It was calming to me. We ate in silence for a while until Ryder, Wynn and Carter came striding over, sitting down with us.

“Only you would be out here when it’s dark clouds.”

I smirked a bit. “It matches my life right now.”

Everyone shot a glance at me. I was trying to be funny. Apparently too soon.

Carter was the next to speak. “Autumn, I hope you know we don’t side with Drix just because he’s our friend. He fucked up and fucked up big time.”

I nodded at him then looked at Wynn. “What aren’t you with Hazel?”

He shrugged but Ryder answered for him. “Hazel is in the middle right now and Wynn here.” He patted his back. “Is a zero drama kind of guy.”

Everyone giggled a bit. I knew that about Wynn. He was the quiet shy one. I’m sure he was in a hard place too.

“Sorry Wynn. My issues are causing a ton of people pain.”

Everyone stopped chewing and all eyes were on me now.

“Excuse me?” Carter asked.

“What?” I was confused, it was only the truth.

“YOUR issues?” Ryder spat out at me.

I didn’t answer. Savannah was shaking her head at me. “You didn’t do anything wrong Autumn. This is NOT your issue. Its Hendrix’s. He caused all this and I hope he knows it.”

She was glaring at this point. I’ve never seen her that pissed off before.

The bell rang and Ryder lead me to the office then went off to his class. I had to hand it to him, he was really watching out for me. I started telling Ms. Gale what happened. She actually hugged me at one point too.

I was sitting in the office chair when the door opened and a familiar face came in.

“Axel.” I muttered.

“Hey sunshine..” He leaned on the counter with a half smile on his face.

I pointed to the window with the dark clouds showing. “No more sunshine.”

He sighed and dropped his head only to pick it back up. “Fuck him Autumn. I warned you.”

I shook my head. I didn’t need lectures right now. Glad my news of being cheated on went around the school so quickly.

“And I told you I could handle myself.”

He slightly chuckled. “How’d that work out for ya?”

I stood up and walked up to him, our faces almost touching. They would have been if the counter wasn’t keeping us apart.

“I don’t need your fucking I told you so’s right now Axel.”

He backed up with his hands up.

“Okay okay, You’re right. I just didn’t want to see you hurt.”

I glared at him in our awkward silence when the bell rang. He walked back up to me and grabbed my chin lightly with his fingers.

“My offer still stands.”

He turned and left the office. I knew he meant to go to the races with him and honestly, fuck it. It sounded like fun right now. I took out my phone and texted him.

‘You’re on.’

Ding.

‘Thought so. I’ll pick you up Friday.’

I shook my head when Ryder appeared in the doorway.

Biology went by quickly and then the bell rang. I completely forgot I had cheer. I didn’t even change my class yet. I rushed to the office before Ryder could catch me. I slid into the office looking for Ms. Gale.

My ears picked up a conversation. “You think she’s really that bad?”

The principle’s voice on the other end. “Yes, she needs counseling Jamie. She really does.”

Ms. Gale’s first name was Jamie. I knew that.

“They both do. Those poor kids have been through way too much.”

I knocked on the door and they both jumped when I opened the door.

“Sorry. I just need to change my schedule..”

Ms. Gale came right to my side. “Of course, dear.”

We went over my options. I decided on track. I loved running. That way I was still in the gym, but in a total separate space. Ms. Gale walked with me to the gym and I met with the gym teacher. He had a couple girls come over and meet up with me and show me where to go. I went and changed and shut my locker when a pair of eyes showed up.

I screamed and jumped back. Quickly realizing they were Adrian’s eyes.

“Chill dude.” She was laughing a bit. “I came to show you how to get to the upper track.”

“You take track?”

“Well, since you suspended me from cheer..”

I was rubbing the back of my neck at this point. “Yeah.. sorry..”

She laughed again. “Don’t be. Running has been the best thing to happen to me. Now come on.”

We went up to the track and started running. I was watching the court below us as the boys played their game. A couple times Ryder’s eyes were on us and I noticed but didn’t say anything. We went and changed when the bell rang. I waited for Ryder outside the locker room. He was my ride home. My phone buzzed.

‘We need to talk’

Hendrix. I clicked my phone off again. I didn’t have time for him. My phone buzzed again.

‘please’

I read it and huffed. But didn’t reply.

Buzzed again.

‘I’m by my truck waiting.’

A part of me wanted to reply to him saying “Good for you.” But I didn’t.

The locker room door came open and Ryder appeared with that famous smile of his. “Ready?”

I nodded and clicked my phone closed. Completely forgetting his text.

We walked to the parking lot. Ryder had his arm around me again, since he was trying to cheer me up and tell me jokes. I had hit him in the ribs at one point and that’s when his arm went around me to tell me he was joking. I stopped dead in my tracks when my vision stopped on Hendrix leaning on his truck. His eyes were in straight glares. Ryder looked at me and then to where I was looking. He yanked on my shoulder going forward again.

“Nope, he doesn’t get to spoil this.”

He led me in the opposite direction from Hendrix. Though I noticed Hendrix got off his truck and was following us now.

“Ryder, STOP!”

I knew Ryder was ignoring him.

“FOR FUCK SAKE, LET ME EXPLAIN!”

That hit Ryder. I sat the glare hit his eyes and he turned around wicked quick.

“There’s nothing to say to anyone Hendrix. You fucked up.. So if you could kindly leave us alone.” He turned back around and grabbed me to move me forward too.

He said those words so calmly even I was impressed. My heart was racing and I felt like throwing up at the sight of him. Hendrix was pleading with me with his eyes. I sighed and stopped.

“Let me talk to him Ry.”

He stared between me and Hendrix. “Really?”

I nodded. I needed the truth. Even if it hurt to hear. I had to move on with the truth.

“Fine, I’ll be right here.” He crossed his arms and stood there staring at Hendrix.

I turned and walked closer to Hendrix. “Talk.”

He tried reaching for me but, I moved my arm out of his way immediately. I saw the defeat in his eyes now.

“I’m sorry.”

I rose an eyebrow. “That’s all you have to say to me?”

He shook his head trying to step closer to me.

“It was an absolute mistake.”

I laughed a bit. “Wow. You think?!” I was now crossing my arms too. My attitude completely changed. I wasn’t having any of this.

“I didn’t mean for it to happen. I went to Ryder’s and Harley was there. I offered to take her home since that’s when you all went to the hospital.” He motioned between me and Ryder.

“I was hurt that you didn’t call me. You didn’t want me around but yet you let Ryder around you with no problem.” He sighed and continued. “I got jealous and angry. You weren’t picking up my calls. Harley felt the same with Ryder. She felt like she was being pushed away and he even left her to come check on you and didn’t come back.”

I looked at Ryder and then back to Hendrix.

“That does not excuse what you did.”

He was shaking his head. “It’s not what everyone is saying Autumn. Its not.”

He said my name. It made my heart break more. My heart missed his nicknames. But my mind didn’t miss them.

“Then what is it?!” I screamed. I didn’t have time for this and my heart couldn’t take much more.

“We just kissed. I swear. The moment caught up with us. I promise. We both just poured out our emotions and it just happened.” He stepped closer to me but I let him this time. “I stopped it before it went further. I promise.” He grabbed my arm and again I let him. I looked up into those emerald eyes of his and they were off. Something about them wasn't him.

“I can’t do this.” I ripped my arm from him and went running to Ryder who grabbed onto me and led me to his car.

When we reached my house, I ran out of the car and into the front door, running up the stairs and slamming my bedroom door.

Ryder was trying to follow me but met with Bryce instead and brought him up to speed on what happened. My uncle was back at the hospital. Marley went back to school.

I didn’t know what to believe. My mind was telling me one thing and my heart was telling me another. I knew I was pushing him away. I knew I wasn’t being the best girlfriend. But that doesn’t mean it gives him permission to cheat on me. Or for Harley to cheat on Ryder. Ryder Is like family to me. She has to understand I couldn’t manage to lose him. Wait, why didn’t I feel that way about Hendrix? Why was I defending my actions and Ryder’s? I knew they were wrong too. My life was one big confusing mess of heartache.

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