Chapter 9: Confrontation
The next morning, I wandered through the gates of Prescott High, flagged by my two best friends. Last night I had gotten a puzzling text from Noah saying unfortunately he couldn’t pick me up, and that he was sorry.
So I had been forced to carpool with Ciara and Chaska, who were demanding answers to questions that I didn’t have.
I sighed and looked around for Noah. But he was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t like he was sick or anything. When Ciara had picked me up, his car had been missing in the driveway.
I stole a glance at the clock in the corridor, and sighed as I realized it was already eight-thirty. The bell would ring any second now and then I would lose my chance to talk to Noah before I was forced to take a class with Logan first period.
Obviously luck wasn’t on my side, because just then the bell went, signaling the beginning of morning classes. I bid adieu to Chaska and Ciara before walking to my locker and dialling my combination, before pulling out my books.
I sighed and began to make my way down the hall as it began to clear of students who weren’t actually running late to class, unlike someone else I knew…
I was just about to turn the corner and into the branching corridor that would take me to class when two voices stopped me cold. They were two familiar voices that made me pause.
“Dude, I’m asking you nicely, OK? Back off,” a voice said. It was cold and determined.
“Why? So you can swoop in and save the day? You already broke her heart once. Just leave her alone, Logan.” The voice was Noah’s.
“I see the way she looks at you. She doesn’t love you. Not like she loves me.”
There was a moment of silence, and I briefly wondered what Noah’s reaction was. When he spoke, the hostility in his voice was enough to make my heart plummet.
“You leave her alone, or I swear to God the next time you eat, it’ll be through a feeding tube.”
“Is that a threat, Fordman?” The voice was taunting, with a mocking, venomous lilt to it.
“No, just a warning. You better heed it or you’ll have hell to pay.”
“I told you once, but I’ll tell you again, Noah. You leave her alone. You walk away, and you never turn back. You rip her heart to shreds if you have to. But she belongs to me.”
“She deserves better than you,” Noah growled, and I clenched my fists. How dare Logan think I belonged to him! I wasn’t a piece of luggage; I was a human being.
“What? And you think you’re so much better? You’re not exactly an angel yourself. Break up with her, or the next time I see you, you’ll need a one-way trip to the ER.”
I gasped and quickly ducked into an alcove separating the lockers from the sunshine-yellow plaster walls of the school. Logan stalked past, fists clenched, and I held my breath, sure he’d catch me. But he continued walking without a sideways glance, too caught up in his anger to notice me.
When I was sure Noah wasn’t going to come around the corner and spot me eavesdropping on their conversation, I ducked out of the opening and all but ran towards my classroom.
When I got in there, Logan’s seat was noticeably empty, and Daisy was staring at it, puzzled at his absence. I frowned and sat down, sighing and rubbing my temple from the strange argument. I couldn’t believe it was over me.
Time seemed to tick by slowly as the teacher droned on about the lecture, and I almost jumped sky-high when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to see a girl sitting there, with chestnut hair pulled in a ponytail, and almond eyes. She was pretty, in an innocent-looking way, and she offered me the smallest of smiles.
“Yeah?” I asked, staring at her with upraised eyebrows. I had never talked to this girl before. Maybe she needed notes?
“You’re Marley Adams, right?” she asked uncertainly, peering at me quizzically.
“Oh, um, yeah.”
“Someone asked me to give this to you,” she said, handing me a folded piece of paper that looked like it had come out of a notebook.
“Thanks,” I said unsurely, a little surprised.
I turned back around to face the front and slowly unfolded it, smoothing out the creases and staring at the handwriting that hadn’t changed in ten years.
Sorry, had to go home early. Not feeling well. Hope you have a good day.
Despite the circumstances, I couldn’t help smiling a little bit at the sentiment. He had even written me a note wishing me a good day. Maybe things were going OK between us.
But then I realized that there was no way Noah was sick. He had sounded perfectly healthy during the fight with Logan this morning. Was that what this was about? Why wouldn’t he say anything to me? Why lie? I deserved to know, and I didn’t see a reason for secrecy. We were business partners.
I was becoming very frustrated with the secrets and lies, and I knew that it was time for it to stop. I deserved to know what was going on and have a say in it as well.
With new resolve, I folded the note and pocketed it.
I was going to get some answers.
~ * ~
I was so relieved when the final bell rang at the end of the day, I could’ve jumped for joy.
I quickly packed up my things and shouldered my satchel, before making my way towards the parking lot.
As I leaned against Ciara’s car, I quickly hatched a plan in my mind. This afternoon, I planned to confront Noah about what was going on. And unlike Saturday when I had tried this, I was determined to get answers now. I needed them. I needed to satiate my curiosity.
I pulled out my cell and checked my messages. No new ones. I don’t know if I had expected to get one from Noah—probably not, he wasn’t really a texting kind of guy—or maybe Logan or just somebody.
I spotted Chaska and Ciara walking towards me from across the lot, and I raised my hand in a wave. They smiled and waved back, picking up the pace and trying to squeeze through a group of giggling freshmen.
When they made it to the car, we all piled in and Ciara stuck her key in the ignition, bringing her cute little car to life.
“Does anyone wanna come to Betsy’s with me and grab a milkshake?” Ciara asked conversationally as she peeled out of the parking lot and turned up the radio to some song about enjoying summer and being young forever, or something.
“Sure! I’m in,” Chaska said, nodding enthusiastically and bouncing a little in her seat. She was always the positive, bubbly one of us.
I wanted to say no. I mean, I needed to see Noah and I needed to get to the bottom of this once and for all.
But these two were my best friends in the whole world, and it felt like we never hung out anymore since I’d been so caught up with Logan and Noah. I felt really guilty about that. They had made an effort to stick with me, and they deserved the same in return.
So I smiled at Ciara and said, “Of course, I’d love that.”
She giggled excitedly and started to drive towards Betsy’s. I watched the world flash past the outside of the car, and joined in on the conversation that Ciara and Chaska were currently having.
When we pulled into the lot, I grabbed my jacket and piled out of her car, shutting the door with a definitive thud and moving towards the diner.
The inside of Betsy’s looked exactly the same as always. Red booths and tables, checked floors and an old jukebox in the corner playing 50’s music.
Ciara, Chaska and I made our way to our normal table and sat down. Immediately we were flagged by a waitress, and she asked for our orders.
We didn’t even need to look at the menu to know our order. “One caramel milkshake, one chocolate milkshake, one strawberry milkshake, and three cheeseburgers with fries,” Chaska ordered, reciting our orders to the waitress. She quickly scribbled it down on a notepad and flashed us a smile, before walking back to the counter and yelling our orders to the chef.
“So, would it be terrible for me to admit I had an ulterior motive in asking you to come to Betsy’s with me?” Ciara asked.
“Shocking,” I replied sardonically, rolling my eyes. I had kinda guessed it already.
She narrowed her eyes and poked her tongue out at me. “Mar, I’m serious.”
“What ulterior motives?” Chaska asked, curious.
“Well, I feel like we never get to see each other as much anymore,” Ciara admitted, looking down at her lap. “We’re slowly splitting up. I mean, between Chaska and the Biology Boy and you and Noah and me with… never mind.”
“Wait, wait, what?!” I asked, caught off guard. “Who’s the Biology Boy? And Ciara, are you seeing somebody?”
Chaska shifted uncomfortably in her seat and cleared her throat, and Ciara kept her eyes averted, toying with the hem of her pink tee nervously. I leant forward to stare at her, piercing her with my gaze.
“Ciara…” I said sternly, feeling like I was chastising a child.
She sighed and ran a hand through her platinum-gold hair. “I think it’s up to Chaska to tell you.”
I looked at the Samoan beauty sitting next to Ciara. “Chas?”
She sighed and shimmied out of her denim jacket. expertly draping it over the back of the chair, and blotted her hands on her jean-clad thighs. “So there’s this boy I share biology with, Kale. And he’s really sweet and kind and funny and we really hit it off. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, but every time I would try to you had something to do.”
“Wait, Kale as in Kale Martyn?” I asked, blinking at her. “As in Noah’s best friend Kale?”
“Well… yeah,” she admitted reluctantly, blushing.
Kale Martyn and Noah Fordman were like blood brothers. They did everything together. They joined the football team together, and sometimes they were over at each other’s houses so much it was like they lived together. Noah was this whole other person around Kale. They were like two halves of a whole.
But he was also in a way related to Noah. Noah’s mother, my Aunt Grace, has a sister, Angel. And Angel got married to Derek.
Kale and Derek were brothers.
“Wow,” I said slowly, trying to let this sink in. Was I really that clueless to my best friend’s love lives that I didn’t even know they had a love interest?
“And who’s this boy you’re crushing on, Ciara?” I said, turning to the pretty blonde.
Just then our orders came back, and we quickly thanked the waitress, before I stared at Ciara imploringly, begging for details. Just like any other girl, I was a sucker for gossip. Hey, that’s what we do.
She slowly swished her straw around her chocolate milkshake and took a quick sip. “You’re not gonna like it, Mar.”
I was puzzled at her words. Why wouldn’t I like it? Unless it was some bonehead on the football team, then there was no-one else I would really disapprove of her being with. She was free to be with whomever she likes. She was her own person, and I didn’t have any right to dictate her relationships.
Unless it was Noah or Logan.
That thought gave me the creeps.
“Just tell me, Ciara,” I said, taking a small bite from my cheeseburger and a sip from my caramel milkshake. “I’m sure I’ll like it.”
She looked out the window, trying to avoid eye contact. Why was she avoiding this? What could she possibly say that I would object to so much?
“Is it Noah?” I asked worriedly, feeling my hands get clammy. “Or Logan?”
She swiveled her neck around to me so fast I was surprised she didn’t get whiplash. She seemed so shocked she looked like she was about to fall out of her chair. Her eyes widened to saucers as she shook her head vigorously. “What?! No!”
I quirked an eyebrow. “Oh, really?”
She seemed offended at my accusation. “Yes, really. I have no feelings for either of them.”
“Then who?” I asked.
She looked down at her lacquered nails, and when she said his name, her voice came out muffled.
“What was that, Ciara?” I asked.
She sighed. “It’s Jake.”
I froze. My eyes almost bugged out of my head at the name. Jake? She liked Jake? No way!
“Jake as in… my twin brother Jake?” I asked incredulously.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Jake. He’s an amazing and sweet brother and I couldn’t have wished for a better twin. He looked after me and he only wanted to the best for me. But it still shocked me to hear that she liked him.
“Yeah,” she said, almost inaudibly.
“He has a girlfriend, Ciara,” I said as gently as I could. “Jordyn Somersby.”
“He’s breaking up with her,” Ciara said quickly, her voice bubbling in excitement. “He told me that he thought she was too immature. She is a sophomore after all.”
I nodded. “Did he really tell you that?”
She shrugged offhandedly. “We talk sometimes.”
I gave her a bright smiles and forced a cheery tone. “Well then I hope that everything works our for you guys.”
She nodded, glad at my acceptance. “I hope so, too.”
“And you, too, Chas. I hope that everything works out between you and Kale.”
“Thanks. And we both hope things work out with Logan for you.”
I nodded and thanked them, but the truth is, deep inside of me a war was raging.
Because suddenly, I wasn’t so sure that I wanted things to work out between Logan and I.