XX - Kayleigh
Audrey stormed over before Sebastian made it, scowling fiercely at Kayleigh - an expression I had never seen on her before.
"What are you doing here?" Audrey snapped at her, "You need to leave. Like, now. Spread your trouble somewhere else."
Kayleigh raised a brow, shaking back her hair and folding her arms. "Actually, I was invited. Do you see me causing trouble? I haven't seen you," she continued, turning her attention back to Maddox and smiling, "for ages! How're you doing? I've really missed you, you know."
Maddox smiled slightly, looking awkward and glancing at me. I looked away, stepping back.
"Should I, um, go, or...?" I started, but Audrey shook her head and grabbed my hand. Kayleigh finally noticed me, looking me up and down for a second before smiling in a fake manner.
"Hi," she said with a smile, "I'm Kayleigh. Uh, nice dress..."
"Thank you," I replied uncertainly, Sebastian standing by my side. with a glare at Kayleigh.
"Go away, Kayleigh," he warned, "you've done enough. You know the rules between us now."
"Oh, come on," she gushed, with a roll of her eyes, "I just noticed Maddox and wanted to say hi. It's a free country, right? Come on," she said, turning to Maddox and taking his hand, pulling him away, "I need to talk to you about something important."
"Oh no you don't," Audrey spat, "Maddox is Esme's partner, for your information. And you interrupted them, which is rude as hell. But hey, it's you we're talking about, so no chance of any decency's gonna pop up, is it?"
Kayleigh frowned then, looking between me and Audrey and Sebastian either side of me. Then she huffed and looked to Maddox.
"C'mon, I gotta talk to you quick," she insisted with a half-smile, "you don't mind if I steal him for a minute or two, do you, Esme?"
Before I had a chance to answer, she smirked and pulled him away. Maddox looked to me apologetically before complying, leaving me with Audrey and her Sebastian.
"Hey, what happened?" Melissa said, running over and watching after Maddox. "Who's that girl? I saw you and Maddox just a minute ago, I thought you were, you know, so close...!"
"She was," Sebastian said, glaring after them, "but that little... she ruins everything."
"Everything," Audrey agreed, then grabbed my hands, looking to me in concern. "Essie, are you okay? I'm so sorry, she's just... I'm sorry."
I shook my head, biting my lip and sighing. "I, um... I think I'm gonna go home."
"I'll come with you," Melissa told me with a small smile, hugging me tightly. I hugged her back, squeezing my eyes shut. What the heck had just happened? Who was that girl? Why didn't Maddox turn her down, disagree? Were they each other's ex or something?
"Me too," Carmen said, walking over to us and patting me on the back comfortingly as I broke away from Melissa. "Me and Harles over there saw some of it from the bar. Snakey move, that girl made."
"I'll come too," Audrey said with a nod.
"You guys go ahead," Sebastian told us, "I'm gonna go find Kayleigh and send her on her way. Then I'll talk some sense into Maddox, okay? Audrey, you need to explain what you can to Esme when you get back to hers."
Audrey nodded in agreement, and he rushed off. Audrey smiled at me, putting an arm around my shoulder and leading us away from the party, Carmen and Melissa following beside us. Beth looked surprised to see us leaving, frowning slightly.
"Going so soon?" she commented. "Are you guys good?"
Audrey shrugged. "Just someone I've got history with turned up. We're gonna go early. Thanks for everything, Beth, it's been great."
Bethany nodded with a smile, stopping me just before I left. "Hey, Esme - I'm actually head of dance at school, and we really need more people. There's, like, an epic performance at the end of each term at Reddington, the big hall in town. So let me know if you're interested!"
I blinked, taken aback by the offer. "You want me to join dance?"
"Sure," she said with a friendly smile, flicking back a loose strand of hair from her eyes, "I think you'd be great. So think about it and let me know, kay? See you Monday!"
"See," Audrey commented with a grin, as we all got in her car, "you're a semi-extro now."
I rolled my eyes and smiled lightly. "If you say so."
The ride home was a fairly short one, and we all went upstairs to my room, closing the door behind us as Carmen emptied a stash of junk food and sweets from her backpack onto my bed.
"Hey, if we're talking gossip and annoying people, we might as well have good food."
I smiled and sat down, grabbing a pillow and hugging it between my legs and chest; Audrey sitting opposite, Melissa and Carmen each side.
"Right," Audrey started, her eyes flicking between us all in a serious way, "first, I need you guys to keep what I'm about to tell you to yourselves. I'm only really letting you hear it because you're friends of Esme, which makes you immediately trustworthy. Yeah?"
Melissa and Carmen nodded emphatically, their attention fixed on her. I did likewise, and she nodded in satisfaction.
"Okay. The girl you just had to tolerate ruining the party and Maddox and Esme's moment is a girl called Kayleigh Skyla. She's the same age as us and goes to my school. Trust me when I say she's in no way a good friend. She's a bratty little troublemaker, and one of the main reasons Maddox had to move."
My eyes widened a fraction in interest, and I hugged the pillow to my body harder.
"Kayleigh was never really my or my brother's friend. She met Maddox in some class where they were put together on a tutoring assignment or something like that about six months back. She's smitten with pretty much every boy, and she was with Maddox. She hung around with him more, and I guess he considered her as a friend.
"Kayleigh was going out with a boy called Jared Davison - he's not a nice guy either, in any way. He's arrogant and he can be really violent. He was possessive with Kayleigh, and she claimed that she felt trapped. She complained about him often - and Maddox wanted to help. As he would, obviously, because he's an awesome friend," Audrey explained, "hates to see his friends upset or being mistreated, for all he's stupid and reckless."
"Yeah," I agreed, "he told me that himself. How he doesn't like his friends being hurt and stuff."
Audrey nodded. "Right. So, he felt sorry for her, and one day she asked him to help her, talk to Jared about loosening to reins a little and back off when it came to her associates and to stop giving her mild threats. Maddox tried to talk to him about it, and Jared got aggravated. He started retorting with things about his family. Maddox and Jared ended up getting into a proper fistfight about that, since that's something that really sets Maddox off. A teacher noticed and took them to the head's office, where they asked Kayleigh who started it. Kayleigh," Audrey said, her fists clenched as she continued, "told the teacher that Maddox did."
Melissa gasped in dismay, Carmen scoffing and shaking her head in disgust.
"What a jerk," Carmen commented in disapproval, and Melissa hummed in agreement.
"Why would she do that?" I questioned, frowning and putting the pillow down beside me. "I thought she was the one who asked Maddox for help in the first place."
"She did," Audrey said with a shake of her head, "but apparently, Jared gave her a threatening look and she felt intimidated. So, long story short, Maddox was excluded from school."
"Poor Maddox," Melissa said with a sigh.
"Is that why he moved here then?" Carmen asked.
"Well, at the time, Sharon and her kid were moving in with Maddox and his dad and brother, and they needed a bigger place. When they heard they decided to get a house over this way and go to your school for a better fresh start. Kayleigh, Jared and Maddox were told to stay away from each other. Thing is, Kayleigh and Jared are still hanging around together - if they're still properly dating I don't know, but even so, they're pretty damn close. My point is, she and Jared got Maddox hurt and into a lot of trouble, and now she's come back to Maddox today I'm positive the trouble's not gone."
I rested my head on the headboard and sighed, nibbling my lip.
"Why didn't Maddox just turn her down?" I asked Audrey. "At the party, why didn't he just tell her to get lost?!"
"Because he's a decent guy," Audrey answered with a sigh. "And he lets her walk all over him. But Esme," she continued, looking straight at me, "I know for a fact he doesn't see her as any more than a friend. He saw her as a friend in need, and probably still does."
"Great," Carmen groaned, "a Madam Muck on our hands."
"What'll we do?" Melissa asked, worry evident in her tone.
"Sort this out," I said suddenly, half surprising myself with what I said and decided on at that moment. "I think I need to talk to him."
Audrey smiled at me and nodded, throwing me a pack of sweets. "You go, girl."