I woke up at midnight on technically Thursday morning. I stood up and looked around my room. My eyes fell on Bryce sleeping on the floor right next to me. He clearly did not leave my side. I lightly put my feet next to him and leaned down, grabbing his shoulder.
He opened his eyes slowly and took in the sight of me.
“Ott.. are you okay, what’s going on?”
He sat up slowly rubbing his face trying to wake up.
“I’m fine. I wanted to know how dad is?”
He sighed and tried clearing his throat. “He’s fine Ott. He’s healing just like they said. He’s almost in the clear.”
I smiled and leaned back on my bed. “I’ve screwed up so much Bry.. I wish dad was here to talk to.”
He stood up and sat down on my bed, bringing me into his arms.
“Talk to me.”
I sighed. Here it goes. Here comes all the word vomit from the bottom of my stomach.
“I still love Hendrix even after what he did, but I hate him so much for making me go through exactly what I went through last year. He beat up the guy that did that to me and yet he did it too.”
Bryce nodded clearly wanting me to continue.
“Then dad getting hurt. It was too much for me. Just felt like my existence was a mistake. That everyone I touch around me just breaks.”
He was shaking his head even before I stopped talking. “Don’t ever feel like that.”
“Then!” I sighed. “I go and make out with Axel and I can’t even tell you why I have feelings for him but I do.”
The look on his face was one of shock but also anger. “Why Ott. He’s not a good guy.”
I shrugged. “He’s good to me.”
He sighed and ran his hand through his hair, scratching the back of his head with a grumble. “I don’t really approve of that one. But as long as he’s good to you.”
I settled my head on my pillow, curling my legs up to me. “I don’t know what to do Bry.”
He came and laid down next to me. “Let things play out Ott. The right choice will present itself. I want to royally kill Hendrix right now. But I know you still love him. I also hate the idea of you and Axel being together. But if he’s that good to you I couldn’t say no to that either.”
I pushed away a couple tears. “God, I feel like such a slut.”
He chuckled a little bit. “No sis. Slut is not the term for you. You didn’t sleep with them..” he shot up immediately. “You didn’t right?!”
I shook my head and he laid back down. “Thank god.”
“But its not just the boy problems. I had Harley, I had cheer, I had dad.. everything just collapsed around me at once.” He turned towards me as I did the same. He grabbed my arm in response.
“You pick your journey. But I can tell you one person that never left you or let you down.”
I rose a brow. “Who? You?”
He laughed a bit. “Oh, I definitely let you down. But I’m surprised you haven’t noticed the person I’m talking about.”
I was still confused. My face must have shown that.
Realization hit me. Ryder had been there from the beginning. Sitting on the side lines. Always giving me compliments. Always there for me when I needed someone. He was there when I needed the truth. Someone to cheer me up. Someone to just be my best friend. He was the first person I met here and stayed true to his word the entire time. My heart tugged at me. How could I have been so blind?!
“BRYCE!” I sat up quickly. “How do you know?!”
He was chuckling at this point. “He’s my best friend. You think he didn’t tell me?”
I huffed and crossed my arms. “Why didn’t he say anything? Why didn’t YOU say anything?”
He was shaking his head at me. “Because you were happy.”
I had no words at that point. They both kept their mouths shut because I was happy with Hendrix. He even helped Hendrix ask me out to homecoming. He always encouraged me and him and made sure he was treating me properly. He was even there when I had no one. I’m so freaking blind!
“I’m such an idiot.”
I shot up and grabbed my phone and sent a text to Ryder.
‘Please come over.’
I sent it and went into my bathroom and changing into sweats and a hoodie again and braided my hair again. Bryce leaned on the doorway and watched me.
“So what’s the plan then?”
I sighed and shut off the sink. “I don’t know. I need to hear it from him.”
He crossed his arms. “But Ott, how do you feel about him.”
I stopped and turned to face him. “Bryce I love that kid. He’s been my constant. Well besides you of course. I'm just an idiot and didn't realize it.” I smiled at him.
He put his hands in the air. “Well then, I think you just answered your own question.”
My phone went off from the room and I ran to it, shoving Bryce out of the way.
I smiled and ran down the stairs and opened the front door. I went to my safe spot yet again. The porch swing and sat down waiting for him. I was playing with my hands out of nerves. What was I doing? Wait what was I going to say? I rushed into this. Wait I’m not ready. I went to grab my phone to tell him never mind when I heard his voice.
“Sweet cheeks. What’s wrong?”
He was up the stairs and coming my direction. Shoot. I was out of time.
“N-n-nothing..” I stuttered a bit. Why was I suddenly nervous around him?
I noticed he must’ve been in bed sleeping. He had on sweatpants and a muscle tank top. My eyes scanned his arms. They were absolutely toned and built. I had never looked at Ryder like that before. I remembered when he first came to my house. He was standing there in all his glory and I had to run back upstairs to get more attractive. Yet, he’s the one person that has seen me at my absolute worst.
“Nothing?” He came and sat down next to me, putting his hand on my leg. “Where’s Bryce?”
I nodded my head towards the house. “He’s inside.”
Ryder looked at me then to the house and then back to me. “Then.. what’s up?”
He was clearly confused why I 911’d him here like I did, at midnight no less. I sighed. I had to come out with it, get it over with. There’s so much shit happening right now why not add on another.
He made a face and released his hand from my leg, pointing at himself. “Me? Why?”
A part of me wanted to giggle. He was so confused. “Erm well I heard something and I just need you to confirm it.”
He leaned back and turned his body to face me. “I’m listening.”
I took in all the energy I could and turned to face him too. “Bryce. Well he uh..” I exhaled again. I felt faint. Why was this so hard?!
Ryder leaned in and grabbed my hand. “Holy shit Ott, why are you so pale? What’s wrong?”
I grabbed his hand back. He looked down at our hands then my face. He had one brow raised in question at me and rightfully so. I was being so odd right now.
“Nothing is wrong.”
His face didn’t change but he took his other hand and placed it on my cheek. I never noticed his touch before. It felt like home. It felt like warmth and safety. “Then why are you white as a damn ghost?”
I smiled at him and let out a small giggle. “Gee. Thanks for that mental picture of myself.”
He smiled at me. I needed to see that smile of his. “Sorry. I mean your still a 10 as a ghost.” He must’ve suddenly remembered what I just went through. “Shit, Sorry. Bad jokes.” He took his hands off me.
I shrugged. He was an idiot. But he also was pure. “It’s okay. It’s nice to hear the lighter side of things right now.”
He smiled again at me, here goes nothing.
“Ry. I need to know something and I need you to be 100% honest with me.”
He nodded. “Aren’t I always?”
I giggled to myself. He got me with that one. He was the one person I could count on for that.
“Do you have feelings for me?”
It was like I sent a wave of energy at him because he moved a little bit away from me, almost in uncomfortable way. My heart tugged at me. Maybe Bryce was wrong? Maybe he moved on from me?
My questions were answered when he slid as close to me as possible and grabbed my face with his hands, cupping my cheeks making me look at him.
“Was it that obvious?”
I smiled. “Bryce told me.”
He growled and rolled his eyes. “Remind me to kick your brother’s ass.”
I nodded as best as I could. “Noted.”
He smiled at me. I felt the spark happen. Something I never felt with Ryder before. He was searching my eyes. I felt the tug of his hands pulling me forward. He leaned down and our lips met. He wasn’t like Hendrix’s kiss. The spark was less electric. He also wasn’t like Axel’s kiss. The sexual tension wasn’t overwhelming. It was just, right. Everything mixed into one in one of the most compassionate kisses I’ve ever felt. He only kissed me once and then pulled back, still searching my eyes for an answer letting his hands fall.
“God, you don’t know how long I’ve had to hold back from doing that…”
I smiled at him and poked his chest. “You’re the one that didn’t speak up.”
He shrugged at me this time and poked my arm. “You’re the one that had every guy in the school gawking over you.”
I gasped. “I DID NOT!”
He was snickering and I smacked his arm. “Ryder Hawkins you are the absolute worst!”
He leaned down to me again. “Apparently, Autumn Greene that also means I’m the best.” He kissed me again, holding the back of my neck. Kiss after kiss happened and I ended up on his lap in his arms. Everything felt right. I brushed back his hair that fell into his face. His damn blue eyes staring into my soul when we pulled apart. His dimples and perfect smile had me weak. Not like Hendrix weak, like my god giddy weak.
Was this happening too fast? I was moving on so quickly I was giving myself whiplash. What about Axel? was he really just a rebound to get my head straight? Maybe this with Ryder was meant to happen from the ashes of everything else? We were both hurt and we found each other. I didn't see a single thing wrong in that explanation.
My phone dinged and I looked over at it.
‘okay okay, stop making out and get in here and sleep’
I laughed and showed it to Ryder who also laughed. “Guess we’ve been watched.”
I again smacked him. “Ryder!”
He chuckled. “What.. I don’t blame him.”
I rolled my eyes and got to my feet. “The worst.”
He got up again and grabbed my waist, pulling me against him. Noticing how short I was compared to him. “The best.” He smirked at me and kissed me again. Just once.
“I’ll be here in the morning to check on you.” He smiled at me and brought my hand to his lips and took off down the stairs and over to his house next door.
I heard tapping and I almost jumped out of my skin. Bryce’s face was in the front window tapping on the window. I laughed and went inside.
“How long were you there?”
He was rubbing his eyes. “God, too long.. I need a vision bath now.”
I smacked his arm and we both went upstairs to go to bed. Things seemed to be going better. Maybe I had a purpose here. But maybe this was all another game.
Okay readers, I literally went on a 12 hour writing spree with these chapters. I was crying and laughing and smiling like a giddy school girl at times. I'm so happy where this is going. Buckle up!
Also thank you for all the love! these characters are so much closer to my heart and I ADORE Autumn's and Ryder's relationship so much. Did you catch the hints leading up to this? they were all throughout the book.
Remember the fist bumps? the talks he always had with her to make sure Hendrix was treating her okay? how he was always there when she needed someone? how he stayed in the hospital with her? was there when she overdosed?
Friend zoned is over now! bah boom!
Literally my heart burst!