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Chapter 13


Monday morning came and the squad walked into school together. As soon as I stepped through the door, loud cheers and howls erupted in the halls. My street performance video blared on the jumbotron by the offices. My cheeks were so hot I just knew I would catch fire. My classmates were going crazy! Over me! Thyra, Danica and Miranda flanked me, cheering and howling along with the crowd.

Dr. Carraway stood under the jumbotron, smiling widely. I stood rooted to my spot. He clapped loudly for me and made his way to me. The students and faculty settled down as he took my shaking hand.

“Miss Stone I had no idea!” he said. I blushed even harder. “To say we are all blown away is an understatement. I hope you accepted the invitation to the California State Vocal Solo and Ensemble Competition. I understand now why Mr. Tanaka pushed me so hard to get your application submitted.”

“I did, Dr. Carraway,” I choked out. He smiled broadly at me again.

“Then I hope to hear you proclaimed the winner.” He patted my shoulder and returned to his office. The students broke up as the bells rang to begin the day’s classes.

“Yeah that’s right, people! My BFF is a freakin’ musical badass!!” Miranda threw her arms in the air and pointed at me.

“Miss Frazier!” Dr. Carraway bellowed from his office.

“Oops! Sorry Dr. Carraway!” The girls giggled and we parted ways for our separate classes. Making my way to Chemistry, I was all smiles. Wow, I wondered if this is how Thyra felt after a performance. I felt like I was floating on clouds!

“Amber!” I came to a sudden stop, my body freezing. It was Tristan. I frantically searched the halls only to find them empty. “Hey, it’s ok. I just want to apologize all right?” His hands were in front of him, held out in surrender and he maintained a few feet distance from me. “Look I’m so sorry about my behavior on our date. I was a complete dick and you didn’t deserve that.” His eyes were still purpled from the evidence of Brock’s fist but the swelling had gone down considerably.

“Um, I appreciate the apology, Tristan but I think it’s best that you stay away from me.” I swallowed loudly, trying to keep my knees from trembling. “You really scared me and I don’t think I will ever be able to trust being around you.” Tristan’s shoulders slumped.

“I know,” he said quietly. “I don’t know what came over me. I mean you’re drop dead gorgeous and I guess I was so worked up after your display in Chemistry I lost my head. I know. There is absolutely no excuse for what I did and I’m not trying to make any. I’m pretty pissed at myself for acting like ‘that guy’. I really do like you but I guess it’s too late to try to prove that to you.”

“Yeah, it is. I’m sorry Tristan. Just know that what you did was not ok on any level.” I felt strong hands cover my shoulders and was pulled back against a solid wall of muscle. I knew it was Brock.

“Didn’t you do enough, Andrade?” he growled.

“Relax, man. I just wanted to apologize to Amber. I swear.” He maintained his distance and kept his hands in front of him. “Really. That’s all I wanted.” Looking at me, he smiled. “Thank you for listening, Amber.” He turned to Brock and gave him a defeated smile. “I should have known I didn’t stand a chance anyway. You’re a lucky man, Brock and I really am sorry. Take good care of her. She’s worth it.” He shoved his hands in his pockets and walked away.

(one month later)

The girls had decided to take me out for some much needed girl time. Miranda had arranged with her mother to give me the royal treatment at the salon. With my face coated in a soothing cucumber mask and my feet soaking in the warmth of a scented bath, I snuggled down in my fluffy robe and sighed.

“Oh my goodness this feels so good,” I murmured. For a little while, I was hoping I could let go of everything and just relax. But my nerves got the better of me and the tears began to fall. “I’m so sorry you guys! I don’t wanna cry no more!” My accent always got thicker when I was upset and I sobbed into my hands. The girls surrounded me and I could feel their warm embrace as they pulled me in a comforting circle.

“Oh honey, get it all out. We’re here for you,” Thyra said. “I know that fear, sweetie and it can really do some damage if you let it. I don’t want to see it get the best of you like it did to me. Let us help you through this, yeah?” I nodded my head. I remembered Thyra’s ordeal and knew if anyone would understand what I was going through, she would.

“Ho-how did you stop, Ty?” I asked, my voice trembling. “I mean, he didn’t rape me or really grope me. He stopped when he saw he scared me and apologized after. But I’m caught in this cycle of fear over what could have happened.” Thyra took my hands and gave them a gentle squeeze. Miranda had crawled into the spa chair with me and held me.

“I had to let my family in. I actually didn’t really start healing until you guys came into my life.” Smiling softly, Thyra chewed her bottom lip. “And then came Ryder. He really helped me the most I think. He let me talk about it whenever I felt I needed to, even at two in the morning after a nightmare. He never made me feel like it was my fault I was assaulted because let’s face it. It wasn’t. Just as it isn’t your fault. Tristan is solely to blame for his actions and it looks like he’s really sorry.” I sighed deeply.

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