Conflicted Affection

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7

The next morning went by like any other, getting ready in my normal clothes, eating breakfast, brushing my teeth, except now I have itchy bandages on me and neosporin I have to put on me every time I wake up. I am worried about what would happen when I see Ryland, but I was ready to finally get there and try to talk. I guess Alexa realizes I wasn't my usual smiley self, because she asks me what was wrong, and of course, I just tell her I am tired.

Mom said she would take me and Alexa to school today, and Alexa didn't seem too happy about it, but Mom tells her I was in trouble and Alexa giggles at that.

"Dillan did something bad!" She sings, making me smile a little, and Mom lets it slide because Alexa always makes the tension fade away.

It was calming when we got into the car, up until Alexa asks, "Will Ryland be here today?" She smiles a big smile, and raised up in her chair eagerly.

All I can do is frown but I quickly change it to a fake smile and reply, "Maybe, I gotta figure out his plans for today." Alexa looks a little disappointed, but accepts my reply.

***

I begin walking to my locker, noticing Ryland was already there, but he is talking to a girl, and he is also on crutches. I want to ask him what happened, but I know it's stupid.

"Yeah, I understand. People can be really mean but I got your back, ok?" Ryland says to her, ignoring my presence as I try to get to my locker. I tap him on the shoulder and he looks at me with a blank expression, and turns to the girl with complete interest.

"Thank you." She smiles, clearly blushing and giggling. For some reason it burns me up inside and I just want to push them into the trash can near me.

I try to contain that urge by quickly getting my things out and slamming my locker as loud as possible, startling them both, but I ignore them and speed walk to class, trying desperately to calm my anger. Maybe it's just gross seeing couples and people who like each other be all flirty and cuddly. I mean, it's gross and they should do it on their own damn time instead of grossing everyone out like the dumbasses they are.

I soon realize I was getting too harsh with what I was saying. I was too into my thoughts, that I pass my class entirely and the bell rings, granting me late. I wasn't too far, though, and I rushed to class, still wanting to push everyone into lockers.

I get into class, and luckily, the teacher still wasn't here. I notice Ryland looking down at his desk. He either is thinking about something or is depressed, but I attempt to ignore it and just sit down beside him, trying my hardest to not look at him. Everytime my eyes wander his way, I glance around as if I was looking for something.

"I'm..." I hear Ryland nearly whisper beside me. I look at him for a second, locking my brown eyes with his green ones, but quickly looking away. I don't want to speak to him, not after knowing how he feels towards me.

The teacher walks in, oddly staying quiet for most of the time. The only thing he said was, "Work on your projects, people." He goes to his computer and sits down. I glance toward Ryland, noticing that girl from earlier, who seems new, is looking at us, or maybe just Ryland.

"I brought the project, don't worry." Ryland says softly.

Soon, I can't take it anymore, "I'm sorry," We say at the same time, a little too loudly and everyone turns their attention to us for a couple of minutes. I turn my head away and notice Ryland looking at the girl. The girl nods her head, as if she's reassuring him.

"If it's not too awkward, do you maybe want to hang out with me and my friend? She is new here and she is really shy and I thought your confidence would maybe help? But I really do want to hang out with you. I'm sorry about yesterday I didn't mean to be so mean. Maybe you can even bring your little sister?" my anger still boils, but I force myself to chill out, and he begins to say something else, but then he looks at my arms, noticing all the bandages.

"Well, I'm grounded, but maybe, since we have a project, she will let us work together at my house."

"Um, sorry to change the subject, but what happened for you to have those bandages, and to be grounded? Are you ok?" He asks, seeming a little scared.

"I'm ok. It was just an accident, don't worry. What happened to you?" I ask, pointing to his leg that was wrapped in a cast.

He begins talking a little too slowly. "Just broke my fo- leg falling down the stairs." He laughs nervously.

"I hope you get better."

"You too." He smiles to me, and I can't stop a gigantic smile from forming on my face, but at least it makes his smile even brighter.

"I'm Kate, and I'm pretty sure you know I'm his friend." She seems nervous, of course, but smiles a weak smile to me. I guess she thinks she said something wrong due to her apology, "I'm sorry if that sounded really rude, I'm not used to social interactions." She laughs weakly.

"No, it's totally ok. I was just thinking. I have been zoning out lately so if I do, just wave me back to reality." I give her a short laugh, and I notice Ryland looking sad out of the corner of my eye, so I turn to him. "Alexa really misses you, she talks about you all the time."

He chuckles, "Tell her I miss her too and I will be over soon, if possible."

"I'm sure she'd love that." I smile, sighing a short sigh of relaxation as the tension dies away quickly.

"Who is Alexa?" Kate asks.

"That's my little sister, she's the most amazing person you'll ever meet."

"Seems like you two are close."

"We are. She is adopted, but we are, like, the best of friends. She has a crush on Ryland here big time." I laugh.

"She thinks I don't know." Ryland chimes in, smiling slightly.

We all chuckle and Ryland pulls out the materials for our project, then walks toward the teacher and says something to him, to which he replies with a nod, and Ryland walks back to us.

"He said you can work with us, Kate. Is that ok?" He asks, turning to me.

"Of course." I smile, yet I just want to be around Ryland and not her. I want to get to know him more and spend time with him and a part of me wants her away because I feel she likes him. For some reason I don't like that.

"You sure? I mean, I can work with someone else." Kate suggests.

"No, it's ok, it's no problem." I say, yet I know it isn't believable.

Kate motions for me to come over there. "I know you don't want me here, and I know why, and that's ok. I have someone I like that I would rather work with." She whispers, nodding toward the guy sitting all alone, cutting up paper.

"Are you saying you think I like Ryland?" I whisper.

"You mentioned it, I didn't." She smirks.

I scoff. "I just want to get to know him, I don't like him like that." I whisper.

"Ok." She says, clearly not believing me.

She goes to Ryland, saying something I can't hear, and Ryland replies with a yes. She goes to the teacher to talk about something I can only wish to know.

I go back to Ryland, and we begin talking about the project. I notice Kate walking quite slowly to the boy all alone at the table in front of us. Secretly, I feel excitement for her liking to that boy and the fact that she is away from our group. I know it's rude, it's just I already planned this whole thing out with Ryland and no one needs a gross couple, you know?

"The teacher told me to come work with you." She says, voice clearly shaking. All the boy does is move everything out of the way and pull out the chair for her, then continuing back to cutting the paper.

Kate looks back at us and Ryland mouths to her, "It's ok," and we turn back to our work.

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