Chapter 26. How Could You?
“We really did it?” I said, and smiled.
Avery and I were on an old walking bridge not far from his house that crossed a creek. The water rushed beneath us. It was such a soothing sound.
“We did it,” he said.
We stopped in the middle of the bridge and watched the water. Avery’s arms wrapped around my waist. My head rested against his chest.
“It feels so good and so strange at the same time not to have to hide it from anyone anymore,” I said. “School is going to be weird. I don’t think we should tell anyone about the pregnancy thing, though. Well, that was mom’s idea, but I agree.”
“It’s probably better to hide it for as long as we can,” Avery agreed. “There’s no point in telling the entire school right away. You do know when all of this comes out, you are going to be the center of attention for god knows how long.”
“That’s why I want to hide it,” I admitted. “I’m sure that people finding out that we’re together is going to receive us enough attention as it is. Of course, you’re used to it.”
“Just ignore it,” he said. “I do most of the time.”
“Whatever,” I teased. “You love it. Everyone loves you.”
“They don’t even know me,” he argued.
I turned to face him.
He caressed my cheek with his hand. His thumb brushed over my bottom lip. “In a few years, I won’t even remember half of their names. What matters is what is in front of me. I’ve never cared about who liked me and didn’t like me,” he said.
I swallowed hard. “Do you do that on purpose?” I teased.
“Do what?” he asked, confused.
“Tell me things that make me fall for you harder.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “I mean it.”
“For having such a big head, you kind of don’t have that big of ahead,” I teased.
He rolled his eyes. He lowered his lips to mine and kissed me fiercely. The kiss made me fly in a way that I never did before. It was the first time that I really realized that we didn’t have to hide things anymore.
We broke apart breathlessly.
“I’m starving,” I said. “Feed me.”
He laughed. “Yes, ma’am.” He grabbed my hand in his, and we walked back down the bridge toward his house. “What do you want?”
“Mexican,” I said.
He raised his eyebrows. “Babe, you never eat Mexican.”
I shrugged. “You do.”
“It’s your spawn that wants it,” I said.
He threw his head back and laughed.
Everyone stared at us as we walked down the hall, hand in hand. We knew that we would be the topic of gossip for at least the first day back. He squeezed my hand when he felt my tension. My gaze locked with his, and he gave me a reassuring smile.
We stopped at my locker, and I turned to face him.
He pecked me on the lips. “See you later.”
“Bye,” I murmured.
“Let me know if you need me.”
He squeezed my hand and walked away from me.
I knew what he meant about needing him. He meant to say that if someone gives me shit about what is going on, he will beat them senseless.
“Oh, I get it now,” Susie said.
I gritted my teeth and turned to face her.
“You spread your legs for him, and that’s how you got onto the cheerleading squad,” Susie said and smirked. “Was it good for you? I know I enjoyed it.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” I swallowed hard.
“Sex with Avery,” she said.
The blood drained from my face.
“Oh, come on. You didn’t really think you were the only one who slept with him, did you?”
“I have a hard time believing he touched you,” I said. “You’re disgusting.”
“Oh, he did, honey. We went all night,” Susie smirked. “Don’t believe me? Ask him yourself? I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten.” Susie turned and walked away.
My stomach twisted. I stared after her until she disappeared. My hands clenched into fists. I grabbed my books and stalked off to class.
Classes moved by slowly. I wasn’t sure I would make it to practice tonight. Practice wouldn’t matter much, regardless. I would have to resign from the team soon. Mom, Dad, and Avery all wanted me to resign right away, but I didn’t want to.
When the final bell rang, I jumped from my seat and rushed out the door. I grabbed my bags and headed for the locker room. I stopped at the office door of Mrs. Wilx.
“Can we talk?” I asked.
“Hello, Stormie,” Mrs. Wilx said. “Yes, we need to.”
I walked in and shut the door most of the way. I turned back to her. “I wanted to let you know that I would be leaving the team shortly. I’m pregnant,” I murmured.
“I’ve been made away. Avery stopped by,” Mrs. Wilx said.
“What?” I raised my eyebrows.
“He was concerned that you could lose your pregnancy if you fell wrong,” she said. “I’m afraid that he is right. You may return to the team next year, Stormie. I can’t let you practice in your condition.”
My lips parted in shock. “Look, I’m not disabled. I’m just pregnant. I’m not even that far along. I’m sure I’ll be fine for a few more weeks–”
“I’m sorry, Stormie. I can’t agree with that, and I can’t be responsible for that kind of loss,” she said.
I sighed and bowed my head in defeat. “Yes, I understand.” I walked out of the locker room and toward the back door. I’m going to kill Avery. I had more of a reason now than ever to kick him in the balls. I was angry at him for two reasons instead of one, and neither of them was even petty.
He was on the track several feet away, running in my direction. He slowed down when he saw me then ran off the track and toward me. “Hey, babe,” he said.
My jaw clenched. I raised my hand, and it swung forward. It made a loud smack sound when it collided with the left side of his cheek.
He held his cheek and moved his jaw to get the feeling back. His eyes met mine. “What in the hell was that for, Storm?” he asked in shock.
“Two reasons,” I said. I held up one finger. “You slept with Susie.” I held up a second finger. “You told Mrs. Wilx that I was pregnant before I could. It was my place to tell her, not yours.”
He looked away with a guilty expression, not bothering to deny either of them. “I didn’t want you to get hurt.”
“Yeah, well, I did,” I said.
His gaze flickered back to mine. “It was a stupid thing to do,” he said.
“Which one?” I challenged. “Sleeping with a girl that has tormented me for two fucking years or selling me out to my coach.”
He rubbed his face fiercely with his hands. “I didn’t set out to sleep with her to hurt you. It was a long time ago at a party. I was so fucked up I don’t even recall it. I only remember waking up next to her, and I regret it.”
“Because I found out?” I crossed my arms over my chest and shifted my weight to one leg.
“No, because the bitch is fucking crazy. Some twisted part of her brain thinks I’m going to fall in love with her,” he said. “I told her...” he trailed off. “I told her that I didn’t feel that way for her, and she accused me of liking you. When I didn’t deny it, the two of you stopped being friends afterward. She gives you problems because she likes me, and she knows I want you.”
“How could you–” I stopped and shook my head. I looked down at my feet as I spoke. I was so disgusted that I couldn’t look at him. “God, how could you do that to me?” I whispered. My gaze met his.
His lips were parted, but he couldn’t speak. Pain flashed in his eyes, but I could care less.
“How could you know that all that torment was because you slept with her and not fucking tell me!” I shrieked. I balled my fist up and punched him in the chest.
He stumbled back slightly and winced. “Baby, I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I didn’t think she would go as far as she did. I didn’t realize right away what she was doing.”
I spun around and stalked toward the school.
Avery chased after me, and I could hear his coach and teammates yelling for him, but he ignored them as I ignored him.
“Stormie, wait,” he called after me.
“Go to hell, quarterback,” I said threw clenched teeth. Tears started flowing down my cheeks.
He grabbed my arm and turned me to face him. His chest rose and fell heavily. “You’re only going to give her what she wants if you let her come between us, Stormie,” he said through pants. “Let me drive you home or something.”
I laughed. “God, you jocks are so full of yourselves. Don’t you get it? I don’t want to get in a vehicle with you, Avery. I don’t want to fucking be anywhere near you because now every time I look at you, I’m going to want to throw up. It’s over,” I said and shook my head. “You crossed the line. Fuck you practically skipped past it. If it doesn’t have to do with the baby, then I have nothing to say to you.” I ripped my arm from his and stormed away.
“Honey,” Mom said, knocking on my door. “Are you hungry?”
“No,” I choked through tears. I wrapped my arm tighter around my pillow. It felt like the only thing holding me down was the pillow I kept pressed against my chest.
Mom came into my bedroom. She closed the door and sat down on my bed. She ran her fingers through my hair. “What happened that has you like this, Stormie?” Mom murmured.
“I feel like I’m dying, mama,” I sobbed. “Is it supposed to hurt this bad?”
“What? What does?” she gasped. She pulled the pillow away and started to search me head to toe.
“A broken heart,” I whispered.
Her eyes grew sad. Her fingers brushed my hair away from my sticky wet cheeks. “Oh, baby. What happened?”
“I know why Susie hates me.”
“Why?” Mom asked, surprised.
“She likes Avery,” I said.
“Honey, that shouldn’t come between Avery and you.”
“He slept with her,” I murmured. “And she knows that it’s me that he wanted, so she has been attacking me for it. I can’t put up with girls like that. She won’t be the last to do it, I’m sure. So many girls are going to want him. I’m tired of competing for him.”
Mom sighed. “Love isn’t a competition. If Avery told you that he didn’t like those girls, I think you should take his word for it. People make mistakes, Stormie. That was something that happened before he was with you, right?”
“Yes, but I can’t. The sight of him makes me sick. I hate her so much, and she was so bad to me, and just knowing she was one of the girls he was with...” I trailed off. My stomach twisted violently. I jumped off the bed and ran for the bathroom. I threw the toilet lid up as the bile rose up my throat.