The A team
It was time for lunch, so I started heading towards the lunch room. I had to somehow get Hendrix alone and talk to him. I had to try to explain where I was without blowing my cover story and I had to stay away from Evie. This was going to be fun.
I didn’t know if everyone left for lunch or if they were somewhere inside. I went into the lunch room and scanned the area. I only caught a glimpse of Carter walking outside. I quickly grabbed a bottled smoothie, paid for it and walked outside. I found Carter talking to Maverick and Wynn, so I decided to walk up to them.
Carter turned around with his usual smile at me. “Hey hey, little one. What’s up?”
“Have you seen my brother? I can’t get a hold of him.” It’s true I tried texting both him and Ryder.
“Sorry, haven’t seen them since the assembly ended.”
Mother of God. They are up to something, that’s the only time I never find them. My thoughts were interrupted by Adrian grabbing me and pulling me across the yard to a spot out of earshot.
“What the actual fuck dude. Where did you go?”
“Counselor heard a rumor and had to check up on me…” I gave her a weird look. “Why?”
“They disappeared, I think they went to find you but maybe found Axel first and had a little talk...”
“Talk?!” I knew what that meant. They were not talking if they did find him.
I turned and ran into the building. They had to be somewhere. I checked hallway after hallway and then finally found them walking towards the lunch room as if nothing had happened. Ryder had on his usual smile and Bryce was laughing at something being said by the other guys surrounding them. Hendrix was trailing behind. He caught a glimpse of me and stopped, walking quickly over to me.
“Why am I hearing you tried killing yourself again?”
My hell. The secrets didn’t stay secret here, or the admin made it known to help the case? Least he didn’t hear the drug dealer rumor.
“It’s not your problem.” I went to brush past him, but he grabbed my elbow.
“No, it’s my problem.” I saw the same hurt in his eyes as when I told him to fuck off.
Okay, time to turn on the charm. I had to get information out of him. I pretended to look around the hallway and then pulled him over an alcove by the stairs.
“Just don’t tell Bryce, and god don’t even mention it to Ryder. They don’t know right?”
He shook his head. “No.”
“Keep it that way.” I went to leave the conversation, but he again grabbed me close to him.
“Autumn. What’s really going on? You’re not taking anything right?”
I stared at him. Acting like I didn’t hear him. Yes, this was the tactic I could use. Fool him into believing I was using pills and got into the drug ring, he would try to get me out of it or provide me information to who is dealing. I knew he didn’t want drugs around me, but why was he using? It did not make sense.
“Hendrix. I told you. I do what I want.” I turned my back but, his grab of my shoulder made me turn and fall into his chest. He caught me against him.
“Oh no, you don’t. What are you on Autumn? Why would a counselor be checking on you so much if something wasn’t going on? Tell me now.”
I rolled my eyes and patted his shoulder. Okay, time to act the part more. “You just worry about you, sweetheart.”
I turned and slid past his next grab and walked down the hallway to the lunch room. I left him thinking. Really thinking if something was going on.
I pushed through the doors and headed outside. Hendrix on my trail. I smiled when I saw the group sitting on the lawn in front of me. Bryce’s eyebrow was raised watching Hendrix trail me but, Ryder shot up immediately and came to me, grabbing me off the ground in a hug.
“Okay, what the actual fuck was all that?”
He placed me back on the ground but didn’t take his hands off me. Hendrix slid by us and went and sat by Carter. Apparently, he was welcomed back into our group at some point.
“Nothing.” I looked at Hendrix and he was watching me carefully. Bryce saw this and looked between the both of us, just watching.
“Babe, you tell me right now.” My stare went to his face. My god, this acting thing was getting to me. I couldn’t do it around Ryder. He was too innocent. I stretched up to my tiptoes, wrapping my arms around his neck and whispered to him.
“Can we go to the car to talk?” His face was one of confusion but also curiosity. He nodded slowly and grabbed my hand, leading me out to the parking lot. Everyone was watching us closely as we left.
We got to his car and got in. He didn’t start the car, instead turned to me. I put up my hand to silence him.
“Before I say anything...”
I could see his body language change. He was uncomfortable. I had to clear the air now. I got out my phone and texted Axel. Ryder’s eyebrow raised as he watched me.
‘I have to tell Ryder. I can’t do this to him.’
I could see him shift and I could feel the wave of hurt coming off him, I realized this probably seemed like I was confessing cheating on him or something, so I grabbed his hand.
“It’s not what it sounds like.” Again, something a cheater would say. Shit.
He was just staring at me with such a mix of emotions showing on his face. Axel then texted back.
‘If he tells you what I need to know, I have no arguments to it. He could help.’
He was really confused now. I knew he was reading the texts. I reached out and touched his cheek.
“Babe, I need you to tell me everything you know about the drugs around here..”
I think that was the tip of the confusion cherry I was giving him. He shook his head and pushed my hand off his cheek.
“What in the hell are you talking about Ott?”
I sighed and leaned back into my side of the car. “If you trust me, please just tell me..” I pleaded with him with my eyes. I needed him to trust me. Please trust me.
It was silent for a moment before he sighed. “Fine.” He again shifted in his seat. “It’s been a big deal here for a long time. Somehow, it’s always available. Someone just leaves it around at parties, after practice.”
I shot him a look. Was he using it? “Ryder, do you?”
He rolled his eyes. “Come on babe, you think this..” he motioned to his body. “Would partake in things that could ruin it?”
Yep, that’s my man. I smiled at him in conformation I understood. He never used it. Thank god. I could tell Axel to lay off him.
“But, other’s around us have. That’s the other thing I had a hard time accepting about you and Hendrix. That kid used so much..” He ran his hand through his hair, clearly uncomfortable to talk about it. “When he and Evie got together it just exploded. I don’t think I ever saw him sober again after that.” He continued. “But then he met you and I started seeing a clearer picture of him. He wasn’t using as much because he was around you.”
He grabbed my leg and smiled at me. “You kind of have that effect on people. To better themselves.”
I kind of melted inside from that comment.
“But Homecoming happened and I tried staying out of it, but Harley was different that night and Hendrix was acting weird the entire night. You didn’t notice that?”
Again, I’m the clueless queen so I shook my head.
“I was afraid he was getting you into it and I confronted him. We got into it and that’s when our friendship ended. It didn’t end because of you.”
I nodded in understanding. I was wondering that for a long time.
“Anyway, then your dad being in the hospital and him hooking up with Harley happened and I put two and two together. They were both getting high in his truck before they hooked up.”
Now I knew why Harley suddenly became so angry and irritated at everything. I don't think they were just getting high that night.
“So then when you left with Axel and then you tried.” he didn’t want to say it. “You know. I figured Axel was the dealer and Hendrix had you on them.. and that’s why you overdosed because you couldn’t get enough to forget what happened to you.”
I stared at him with a hurtful expression. How could he think I could do that to myself? But I guess he really didn’t know what I was doing when I was with Hendrix. I couldn’t be mad at him for guessing something bad was going on. But he was so very wrong.
“But then Evie showed back up and I tried figuring out the whole situation. I knew you weren’t involved at all and you never were.”
He reached up and rubbed my cheek with his thumb. “That’s all I know sweet cheeks. Why the sudden interest in it?”
I sighed. Here we go. “You know I love you right?”
He nodded with another confused face.
“I’m just going to say it.” I exhaled deeply. “Axel isn’t a student here.”
He rose a brow shaking his head for an answer.
“I know. That’s the face I made when he told me. But he’s here for a reason..”
“He’s undercover to get the drugs out of the school and the city. My dad is working with him and his uncle…”
He put his hands up in the air a bit. “Whoa whoa, hold up. Axel’s a cop?!”
“Holy shit..” he leaned back and ran his hand through his hair again. “Well, that’s news to me.”
“So.” His eyes came back to mine. “He needs my help now, that’s why we’ve been talking.”
“Why does he need your help?”
I rose my brow at him this time. Really kid, put two and two together. “He needs Evie. He needs Hendrix. Who has an in with both of those people?”
He was nodding his head. “Right, but you’re not with Hendrix anymore?”
“You’re correct. But he wants me to get him to confess to it. Ayla is working on Evie.”
“Wait a minute. Ayla is undercover too?!”
“Shit, how many students are cops in there?!”
I giggled a little bit. “Just them. I promise. But the administration pulled me in to make sure I was okay with doing this. They are watching out for me too. They know about it.”
“Sooo…” He grabbed my hand and squeezed. I knew he would back me up. “What’s the plan then sweet cheeks?”
“I need to pretend to let Hendrix in again. I need you to act like a jealous boyfriend I need you to act entirely normal like you have no idea what’s going on with me.”
He tilted his head and had his eyes rolling in defiance to my order.
“You know I’ll never let you do that.”
I smiled and leaned in and kissed the side of his mouth. “Babe. I would only touch you, only kiss you.” My eyes met his. “I want you doing this with me. I want you on my side. I need help and Axel can only help so much without it getting obvious, also I could not keep lying to you.”
I saw a glimpse of understanding in his eyes and I knew I had him. His heart is too big for him to not help me. I was never going to cheat on him. I would never cross a boundary with Hendrix. The minute I got the info, I would end it all.
“Does Bryce know?”
I shook my head. “I’m having a talk with my dad tomorrow and I’ll get him involved then. I’m sure he knows something is going on anyway.”
“You haven’t noticed he’s been acting weird lately too?”
I stopped and thought about it. Come to think about it and yes, I noticed it. He was very standoffish. Very to himself. Savannah had been on her phone more than around him. Holy shit, was my brother involved in this mess?
“You don’t think…”
He shrugged. “I don’t know sweet cheeks but, I can read people there’s something going on with him lately.”
I looked out of the car and huffed. He was right. I needed to speak to my brother and the faster the school day went by was the faster I could talk some sense into him without being obvious. The bell rang to get to class and we both got out of the car, hand in hand. I had my teammate on my side. It was going to be like a movie, and I was the actress leading the show, but Axel was the director. Let’s blow the roof of this place.