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Chapter Nineteen


Maria let out a content sigh as she closed her eyes, and I smiled, equally as happy about the fact that we could spend this hot day at the pool.

I loved the warmer weather of the summer, but to be able to take a dive in the pool when it got too hot was bliss.

“You know what I’ve decided?” Maria asked, rolling her head to the side to face me.

“Hmm?” I looked at her, shielding my eyes from the sun with a hand against my forehead.

She sat up, flipping her hair over her shoulder. “I’m going to stay single for a while.”

I raised my brows, swinging my legs over the edge of the lounge chair and leaning back onto my hands. “Ok.”

“Yeah. Maybe just mess around,” she said with a wink, and I chuckled.

I stood up, wiping the sweat from my forehead, and took off my coverup. My blood was boiling—and not because I was mad—and I needed to dip into the cool water of the pool for a sec.

“I fully support that plan,” I replied, walking into the pool and wading to the only corner left without direct sun exposure. I was getting mad sunburned.

She smiled broadly, sinking back in her chair. “So how’re things between you and Reed?”

I froze, though not because of the cold water, and looked at my best friend like I had seen a ghost.


“Oh, come on, Bella,” she said, adjusting her glasses. “You went to dinner with him and you always smile when you talk about him.”

Whoa, Maria was the worst at reading some signs that’s for sure.

“We’re just friends.” I chuckled, my mind going to a different person.

“What? Oh,” she replied, sitting back up and frowning at me. “Well, maybe you should tell him that.”

I looked inside the house through the open sliding doors, and raised my brows when I saw Reed in the living room, talking to an annoyed Noah.

“Eh...” I didn’t know what to do. Sure, I liked Reed and we were good friends, but Maria’s words began swirling in my head when he looked up and waved at me.

I sighed and waded back to the stairs, quickly getting out of the pool to greet him. Maria watched the exchange from her lounger, subtly lowering her sunglasses to get a better look.

“Hey, Bella,” Reed chirped, stepping into the backyard.

I redid my bun, tying my hair back and preventing it from sticking to my wet skin. “Hey. What are you doing here?”

“I was having lunch with my parents and thought I’d stop by on my way home.”

“Why?” Noah asked from behind me, and I jumped slightly at his voice. When did he get outside?

Reed’s smile faltered ever so slightly, and I noticed his eyes lowering a little over my face.

Startling me again, Noah placed a towel over my shoulders, wrapping it around me and making sure I was completely covered before he let go. Our skin touched only for a second, but the contact shot tingles up my spine.

“Thank you,” I said hesitantly over my shoulder, pulling the towel tighter around me.

My cheeks burned up as I turned back to Reed, who was still smiling at me.

“Well...actually.” I stumbled over the words, not quite knowing how to tell him that I wasn’t really interested in spending the afternoon with him.

“Are you going to the Rutherford BBQ this weekend?” Maria interrupted, and I let out a breath of relief when she walked up to us.

Reed seemed a little confused, but quickly regained composure, turning to my best friend. “Yes, of course.”

I wondered where she was going with this, but she was quick to clarify.

“Bella and I were actually planning on shopping for an outfit in a bit, sorry.”

I looked from her to Reed, who seemed disappointed if anything. Did she just make this up?

“We were?” I questioned, but she elbowed me in the side.

“Oh,” Reed replied, shifting on his feet. “Ok, I’ll see you on Saturday then, I guess.”

I gave him a smile before he nodded at Maria and turned back to the house. I looked at the water dripping off my skin, debating walking inside and making a mess to see him out.

“I’ll go,” Noah said instead, and I cocked my head to the side at his eagerness to get Reed out of the house.

“So?” Maria beamed, skipping back to her seat and starting to pack her stuff.

“What are you doing?”

“We’re going shopping Powell, get dressed.”

An hour later, all showered and dressed up, Maria and I were strolling through the shopping mall in the next town over, scanning the shops to find something cute to wear to the annual BBQ the Rutherford family threw around the end of July.

They always rented a part of the park, near the lake, so it was more of a beach party, but the entire town always attended.

What Jacob and Petra Rutherford were doing in this shit-show of a town with all that money remained a mystery, but it gave us one of the best BBQ’s/parties of the year, so who was I to complain?

“So, I checked the weather for Saturday,” Maria said as we walked into another clothing store that was just a tad out of my budget. “And it’s going to be one of the hottest days of the month.”

I groaned, not looking forward to the unattractive pool of sweat on my forehead I was sure going to sport that day, and immediately hung a sleeved shirt back.

“So something very, very light then,” I suggested, pulling out a white crop top with thin straps.

I wasn’t really a fan of showing too much skin—contrary to what my usual outfits suggested—but this time it was kind of unavoidable.

“Oh, my God, Bella,” Maria exclaimed from a few racks over, and I looked up.

She held up a long wrap-around skirt, the vibrant red color standing out against the white dots that covered it. It was perfect.

“That’s it, we can go home now,” I said, quickly grabbing one of the white tops in my size, and walking up to her.

Maria chuckled, handing me the skirt, and I looked at the tag as she walked away.

Though I had a job now, and I had a little more money to spend, I wasn’t intending on spending so much today.

Treat yourself, Bella.

After Maria had picked up a few things for herself, we made our way to the dressing rooms, changing into our outfits.

Once I looked in the mirror, I knew that the skirt was definitely worth the price.

“Damn.” Maria whistled at me, eyeing the high split the wrap of the skirt created, and I twirled in front of her. I felt confident and sexy, and I wanted to look that way for—

Nope, not going there.

“Uhm, hello,” I replied, looking Maria up and down in the short but flowy dress she was wearing. The soft lilac color brought out the warmth of her tan skin, and the straight neckline accentuated her slender neck.

“We look hot,” she said, joining me in front of the mirror and pulling me against her side.

I chuckled, resting my head on hers as I looked at our reflection.

Though Maria had a couple more dresses to show, none of them were as perfect as the lilac one, so it didn’t take us long to get out of the dressing room and into the line at check out.

With our bags hanging from our arms, we strutted out of the shop and decided to get a smoothie before heading home.

“What do you wa—” Maria started, but I interrupted her when I saw a familiar brunette walk by.

“Well, well, well,” I tsked, grabbing Katy’s attention as she tried to slip past us.

Maria crossed her arms, looking Katy up and down. Or maybe it was more like looking down.

“Bellamy,” Katy hissed, stopping next to us and giving us an equally as evil look as we gave her.

I sighed, studying her face. She looked awful. Dark circles under her eyes, lips chapped and eyebrows un-plucked. It wasn’t the usual put-together girl that stood before us. And was she wearing sweatpants?

“He finally broke up with you, huh?” I sneered, even though it was probably not the best idea to pick a fight with her, especially in the middle of a busy mall.

“One day, Isaac will see what a little bitch you are,” she shot back, narrowing her eyes at me. “I mean, everyone else already knows.”

Maria and I shared a look, and the anger bubbling up inside me came pouring out.

I pulled my hand back, and before Katy could register what I was doing, I slapped her hard across the face. The sound gave me chills, but the pain in my palm was a price I’d love to pay to see the mark I left on her cheek.

“What the fuck?” she yelled, stumbling back from the impact. Gasps sounded from the people around us, but I couldn’t care less.

She deserved everything that’s coming for her, and then some.

“Oh, sorry, my hand slipped.” I gave her a wink, grabbing Maria’s wrist and pulling her with me to the exit, back to the car. I wasn’t about to be arrested a second time, and Katy was definitely the person to call the cops on me.

Oh, fuck. She still could.

Hoping she would just take her loss and move on, I walked outside, Maria trailing close behind.

“That was awesome,” she said, and I smirked.

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